--^---@In the Darkest Hour--^---@

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My husband suffered a cerebral hemmorhage in 1992, when I was five months pregnant with our fourth child. He was left comatose for the first few months. One day, eight months pregnant in the June heat, I was leaving the respiratory unit he was in with my gaggle of kids. I was tired, hot, irritated with the cranky children and very, very depressed. As I loaded the kids into the car, a man pulled into the parking slot next to me. Staring from his back window were tons of stuffed animals..arranged nicely. They were a little sunbleached and it was obvious they had been there a while. My five year old daughter pointed them out and remarked about how cute they were. The man (whom I had passed many times in the hall of the hospital but never spoken to) was on his way into the hospital by this time, but heard my daughter. He went back to his car, took out five stuffed animals, and passed one to each of my children and myself, and set the extra one in my daughters arms...telling her it was for her little baby brother or sister who would be here soon. Then he walked away, with a smile on his face. My husband was tranferred that night to another hospital and I never saw that man again.

After my husband died two days before christmas of '95, the hospital staff came over on Christmas eve with prepared meals and presents for the children. Unexpected, but greatly needed. Santa came...senseless beauty. My daughter, now seven, went with me to the hospital the day he died..to say goodbye. He had a little artificial christmas tree in his room..with the presents the kids had bought him: tee shits, slippers, books, etc. On our way out, my daughter looked into one of the rooms, pulled me down and whispered, "Mom, that lady doesn't have a christmas tree!" She didn't wait for me to answer, but rushed into the lady's room and gave away her father's Christmas tree, wished her a Merry Christmas and talked for a few minutes. Then she asked if she could give the still wrapped gifts away to the men. She showed me that random kindness helps sustain us, even in our darkest hour. And finally...

Although I could point to at least five other instances of random kindness directed at me..this one touched me deeply. The day after he died, I checked my email and found fifty-seven letters of condolences from cyber-friends made on IRC. 57! These people were friends and truly touched by my loss. They set up a memorial fund and the love and kindness they show each time I log-on is amazing. Kindness extends into this realm of electronics..blurring the line of "real-life" friends and "on-line" friends. To me, they are one and the same.

I'd like to thank everyone who's touched me these hard last two years. And promise every last one of them that I will give back their kindness to the strangers I meet. At least daily.

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