It's been one year since Kellan passed away, as his 'angelversary' was on Monday (12/19). I've been messaging with Lori (and have been attempting to meet up with her for a week now), and she told me that her family really wants everyone to be kind to people in his honor. Everyone seems to be asking Kellan's parents, 'How can we help?', and this is it! Acts of kindness towards others shouldn't be a forced thing, or something that we do just to hashtag and blast on social media for attention. But I do feel like spreading kindness, and the desire for Kellan's family to see the kindness, is important. So I'm posting about it in hopes that you'll want to do something in Kellan's honor, too. Big or little, cost or no cost, anything goes.
I was talking to Truman about ideas for acts of kindness, and he wanted to know if we have to do them for strangers or if we can do them for people we know. I said of course we can do nice things for friends and family, but stepping outside of our comfort zone and being kind to a stranger that might really need it is also an excellent option. We try to raise our kids to be thoughtful and kind no matter what time of year, no matter who is watching, so this is just a little more specific. Truman was all over it and wanted to write his teacher a complimentary letter first, then wanted to drop off cookies to friends. Done and done.
The first day, he held open the door for someone at a pizza place. Then that night, I made little cards from Pinterest, which talk about how to be a superhero with kindness. Kellan LOVED Superheroes, so that has become a symbol used often for many of these events. I can't look at a Hulk toy without thinking about Kellan and how he'd yell, 'Hulk SMASH!' when you'd ask him a question. Now Kellan is a true superhero, as his parents gave the ultimate gift of his several of his organs to those in need. I like to think that his magical power has to be 'giving life to others'. Superhero, indeed.
Anyway, I put a little blurb on the back of the card, to explain Kellan's story, and then we rounded up some candy and put it all in a bag. On our way to Lois and Tony's house that night, we hunted for a stranger that seemed to need a little kindness. It was literally 0 degrees outside and we saw a man standing at a bus stop, looking very, very cold. Cecelia noticed him first, and so Nate pulled up to the bus stop and I hopped out with the bag.
I asked him if he would like some candy, and he said, 'SURE'. When he reached for the bag I saw that he wasn't wearing gloves. I asked if he owned gloves and he said he did, but I got the feeling he was living under rough circumstances. I wanted to give him my gloves, but realized they are pink and fuzzy and probably way too small for this guy. So I trusted that the candy would be a good start for him and he thanked me, as we drove away. New idea: small goodie bags that include gloves and hand warmers, plus cash---that guy probably just needed a few bucks more than anything.
The next day I got a $10 gift card from Starbucks in the morning, and then after taking both Cecelia and Porter to the doctor (more on the wave of Strep throat hitting our family later), we went to Target. As we were finishing some shopping for Truman, I saw a mom in the train aisle with us, without any kids next to her. I am assuming she was a mom, as she was looking at the trains, but who knows? I whispered to Cecelia, 'Should we give her the card?' She nodded, and took it from me, hopping down from the cart and walking over to the lady.
I told the woman that Cecelia wanted to give her something, and explained that it's a gift card for her to use on herself. She looked completely overwhelmed but happy, and I told her that it's in honor of Cecelia's friend who passed away last year. The woman looked at me in the eyes, and she started tearing up, which made me tear up. Unspoken words of heartbreak passed between our eyes, and she thanked us as she walked away. I certainly hope she used that card for herself as a nice treat, and it was a really satisfying feeling to tell someone about Kellan and share the heartbreak/feeling of gratitude for this life. All of that in a few seconds of interacting with a stranger. Pretty heavy.
I have two more cards made up and want to do a few more things with the kids in the coming days. But I'm also trying to do really small things throughout the days, like making eye contact and smiling at strangers as we pass. Letting people go ahead of me in traffic. Striking up a conversation with a dad at Target (yep, there three times this week for last minute shopping, oops) about Shopkins, trying to help him decide what his daughter would like best. Donating some of the kids' old artwork to seniors who are receiving Meals on Wheels, and might need some colorful scribbles in their lives. Just kind things that take little to no effort but can make a difference in somebody's day.
During this insanely hectic season, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture. I know I'm guilty of this, although my heart is extra heavy this year when thinking about Kellan. So many people are stressed out and in a rush and seem so sad right now, and I think a small act of kindness could be exactly what they need. Obviously this is not a new concept but something worth mentioning for a specific purpose: remembering Kellan and honoring his family during this difficult time.
Details: they want the acts of kindness to run from Sunday 12/18 through Christmas. They'd love to see these acts on Facebook and specifically on Kellan's Facebook page. The two hashtags Lori's picked are #KindnessForKellan and #HonoringOurSuperheroKellan. Anything goes. Just be kind!
I also think that hugging your loved ones a little tighter and taking a minute to reflect on all of our blessings, even in the midst of stress, would be absolutely wonderful. I know that Kellan's parents would appreciate it, too.