Sunday, April 02, 2017

NPM 20017 Day Two: The Kindness

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." - Henry James
Kindness doesn't need to be some grand gesture. It can be as simple as a smile, a wave, an open door. This poem reminds me that while we may not know what another person is feeling or experiencing, one simple act may touch them in an extraordinary way. Here's a poem that expresses this sentiment.

Excerpt from The Kindness
by Jan Beatty

Their fragility, their awkward bumping
opens me to a long ago time—
            a hand on the door,
            I was walking in
to the psych hospital in Pittsburgh,
feeling broken and stripped down—
            a hand on the door
            from around my body
& I looked up to see the body
of a man, who said:
Let me get that for you—
            a hand on the door
            & the bottom of me
I couldn’t breathe for the kindness.
I couldn’t say how deep that went
for me.
I had been backing up, awkward/
I had been blind to my own beauty.

Read the poem in its entirety.

I often wonder how different our days would be if they were visited by these seemingly small but powerful acts of kindness by others. Today, on Pam's birthday, I am broken by the thought that we weren't kind enough, didn't do enough to offer her comfort and love. When I reach out in kindness to friends and strangers, it's Pam I see as I offer my heart to them.

I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it! – George Elliston
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow. 


  1. Today, on Pam's birthday, I am broken by the thought that we weren't kind enough, didn't do enough to offer her comfort and love.
    Dearheart, the world is unkind. We cannot hold ourselves responsible for the feelings of others. Neither can we ever be all-in-all for another person, so please don't blame yourself for what you did not give Pam. Take comfort, rather, in the thought that she lived so that you remember her in those interactions wherein you feel additional kindness - other than human civility - is called for. But don't cross that lane to blaming yourself - please.

    1. Thank you, dear friend. Mental illness is so hard to understand. In the wake of suicide we're left wondering what more we could have done. I'm guessing the answer is nothing, but it's hard not to feel the outcome may have been different if ... I don't have an answer for what we should have/could have/would have done differently, and I don't blame myself, but I do feel like I should have seen this coming. There is no closure, no answers, and no understanding, so that is perhaps what is most difficult to deal with.

      Thank you for your words and your kind and caring heart. I'm hugging you across the miles right now.

  2. taking these words in my heart out into the world today.