The Wandering Poet

Buffy Brinkley on the Things that Inspire my Life, my Pen, and my Heart.

Kindness Is A Circle

on October 19, 2015

When I was a little girl, I was given two choices: keep all my toys (I didn’t have many) to myself or share them with another little girl who didn’t have any.

I packed up some of my favorite things. My favorite doll, my favorite stuffed animal (Smiley the hippopotamus), and a few other things I thought would bring the little girl joy.

When my mom looked in the box and saw what I had placed there, she questioned me seriously to make sure she wasn’t going to have a sobbing child of her own to contend with later when the fact that I would never see these items again hit home. I assured her I was okay with letting them go.

I was allowed to accompany my mom to deliver my toys to the little girl. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see the other little girl’s face when she looked at the gifts being delivered. What if she didn’t like the toys or me, for that matter? So, nervously, I walked along side my mom as we entered the hospital. 

What? Hospital? Is this little girl sick, I asked. My mother looked down at me and nodded. I was told she was very sick but not with anything I could catch. My mother washing my doll and Smiley and the other items suddenly made sense. But I was still concerned: is this little girl going to get better? My mother, who, to this day, values the truth above all things, shook her head gently. And I understood the little girl was going to die. And I was much happier for my choices then.

When we entered the hospital room, the little girl was so tiny on the bed. The cancer she had, had robbed her of her hair, the luster of her skin, and the brightness of her eyes. I used all my strength to hold my emotions in check.

Her mother went to her side and helped her sit up. My mother guided me to the bed. The little girl looked at me, at my long, thick hair, the healthy nature of my skin, the brightness of my eyes and the box I held in my arms. I handed the box to my mom who set it gently on the bed within reach of the dying girl.

Her mother helped her open her gift and as my toys were taken out one by one, the girl’s eyes lit up. She smiled (Smiley always made me smile, too), and, holding Smiley, she looked again at me. She smiled a smile then that thanked me. She held out her hand to me and I placed my hand in hers. She squeezed and I gently squeezed back and we became friends. Her mother gave voice to all the little girl and I had just communicated silently. 

The dying girl and I let go of each other’s hands and my mother lead me from the room. When we got back in our car, my mother asked me why I had chosen to give away my favorite toys. I told her that I chose them because they were the toys I had that were the most full of happiness and love. And that I thought the girl might be able to feel that when she played with them (I was 7 years old; everything was made of magic). My mother cried all the way home. I went home and prayed for my new friend.

Two months later, my mother received a call from the dying girl’s mother to let us know that her daughter’s cancer had gone into a mysterious remission. By all accounts, her daughter should be dead, but it seemed the opposite was happening.

The doctors chalked it up to medical science working, our mothers chalked it up to God, and Tami and I chalked it up to Smiley and other love-filled toys.

The next school year, Tami came to school. Our friendship thrived. She continues to be one of my best friends in the world. Her cancer never returned. Apparently Smiley was also a world-class cancer butt-kicker! At least that’s how we tell it.

When my brother died, Tami came to see me. She held on to me for a long time before she handed me the small bag. Inside, wrapped sweetly in colorful tissue, was Smiley. I looked at her. I reached out, she took my hand. And like we did so many years before, the unspoken communication between us opened up. This time it was my turn to say ‘thank you’ and her turn to say ‘you need this more than me.’

Kindness is a circle that doesn’t ever have to end. What you send out always comes home to you. When it does, it changes your life for the better. So, be kind. Always. Your life will be enriched in ways you never dreamed possible. And that’s just the beginning… 😊


7 responses to “Kindness Is A Circle

  1. Esther says:

    This is a heartwarming story, thank you for sharing.
    And I am very sorry for the loss of your brother!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jholland says:

    Beautiful, and so touching. Thank you for sharing. =)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Servetus says:

    I pretty much find that’s true. For everyone, interestingly.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Servetus says:

    I dunno about you, but I think that it’s often very hard to tell who is being kind and who isn’t. Often we don’t know the entire reason for why people say things or do things they do and if we knew more we might judge differently. Kindness is composed of many different facets and is heavily situational.


    • I actually find it’s quite easy to differentiate kindness from other things. People may have different approaches to being kind, but in the end it’s an action, a word, or an idea that benefits another, lifts another up, and without the expectation of anything in return. When someone truly gives from their heart, it is easily seen. Perhaps you think me too idealistic. That’s okay. I strive for the ideal behavior in myself. I don’t always get there (I’m human), but I keep trying. I don’t expect anyone else to agree, but I can go to sleep each night knowing I did my best and I can look at myself in the mirror and truly like who I am. There’s a tremendous amount of joy that comes in unselfishly helping someone else.

      As far as not knowing why people do or say the things they do and that we might judge them differently: to me that’s just a cop-out for tolerating bad behavior in whatever form it chooses to take. I don’t think kindness is situational. To me that implies that the person must have a motivation beyond seeing a person in need and acting on it. To me that isn’t kindness, but a mathematical equation amounting to weighing the balance between the other person’s needs and our wants. And I imagine it’s a very unsatisfying way to live.

      Agree to disagree? 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • Servetus says:

        I’ll limit myself to saying that there’s a scene in North & South that covers this problem quite instructively — Mr. Thornton and Margaret discuss whether it’s “kind” for her to take baskets for the workers. They both seek to “lift people up,” but by very different means. I happen to agree with Margaret, but our elected leaders in this country largely agree with Mr. Thornton — and even though I disagree, as someone who’s worked in higher education since 1991, I understand what he is trying to say. At work today, three instructors consulted me about essentially similar problems and part of their desire was to do something kind, and in each case they decided differently. That doesn’t mean that some of them were kind and others were not. I do not know all the reasons that went into their decision-making. Kindness is, in other words, political and perspectival. You may be an idealist, and so may I, and so may Margaret, but so, quite obviously, is Mr. Thornton — and all of us with different ideals. I, for one, have never had a problem sleeping, but it has nothing to do with my morals. I’m the sleepy type. Sometimes, as with the sick and elderly, tolerating bad behavior can be: kind.


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