A day spent doing random acts of kindness, April 1st two years ago, was a turning point for me in my grief. I lost my husband Doug in a helicopter training accident on September 20th, 2009. My son had just turned one and I had just celebrated my 35th birthday the day before. April 1st was Doug’s birthday and all I knew was that I needed to try and celebrate in some way and bring a smile to other people’s faces.
However, this wasn’t easy. My heart was still so heavy but little did I know the people I wanted to help would be changing the very make-up of my grieving heart, giving me a much greater gift than I could ever give them. It’s still difficult to pinpoint what exactly changed in me that day, but I will tell you that by helping others I saw the world as a brighter place. With each act of kindness, I was simply living in that moment – something that had been difficult for quite a while. That day, through the acts of kindness and gratitude I received from others and the gratitude I had for my life, I reentered the world around me. I saw that simple acts of kindness and gratitude were a celebration of life.
Each year after that, my son and I celebrate holidays, birthdays, anniversary dates through what we call “acts of kindness celebrations.” These “celebrations” have been especially important for us to do in the month of September. Not only do we spend a day doing acts of kindness, we take a trip to celebrate our lives and Doug’s life as well as getting out there and having an adventure. This trip is how we met Rebecca and heard of Pack for a Purpose.
September of two years ago, we traveled to the Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa. We fell in love. I stumbled across Rebecca’s Pack for a Purpose organization but seemed to not be able to get things together quickly enough to take on our trip that year. However, we certainly made up for it this year when we went back to Turks & Caicos.
In order to secure my title of “Best Mom Ever,” I told my son that instead of receiving birthday gifts, we would ask friends and relatives to pick a few items off of the PfaP list to donate. As you can imagine, this was met with squeals of delight and an abundance of hugs and kisses for days on end.
Oh, wait! That was what I was imagining would happen… Always hopeful.
Even though I have always taught my child the importance of giving and helping those in need, this idea was still met with some resistance. “It’s birthday gifts, Mom!,” he said. However, I wanted him go through his toys and clothes and take his own box to a local charity that provides housing and jobs to the homeless in order for him to see firsthand that not everyone has what he has.
We ended up compromising and he was able to put together an Amazon wish list for close friends and family to purchase from. For those invited to the birthday party, we asked them to bring donations. In our note to parents, we explained that each year we celebrate not only our own birthdays but the life of my son’s father. This year, we wanted them to celebrate with us by helping us bring needed supplies to children in another country.
Boy, did they ever celebrate! As the children were arriving, they held in their hands massive bags full of donations. As the donations continued to pile up, I began to wonder if we were going to be able to actually put the “Pack” in Pack for a Purpose! We did end up putting the “Pack” in Pack for a Purpose—with two additional suitcases. It was well worth it.
After spending an amazing week at the resort in Turks & Caicos, celebration of birthdays and the life of a wonderful husband and dad, we were able to personally deliver all of the donations to the Enid Capron Primary School. Since my son started kindergarten this year, we asked if we could visit a kindergarten class and as we walked in, we were met with hugs and an amazing warm welcome. It was indeed a celebration!
As a life coach helping people after trauma and loss, I’m always guiding them to find their celebration and teaching them how gratitude and acts of kindness helps heal the heart and soul. Pack for a Purpose allowed me on the fifth anniversary of my husband’s death to celebrate his life, feel an enormous amount of gratitude for what I have, and reach out with kindness. I can only imagine how full Rebecca’s heart is! Pack for a Purpose is an amazing way to give to the world and the people around us.
And once again, an act of kindness, gave me more than what I gave to them in those two suitcases. My heart is full.