Yesterday was Giving Tuesday. In the past I’ve done things large and small in an effort to give back. One year I delivered 40 Blessing Bags to a local organization that houses and protects battered women and their children and helps them leave their situation safely. That was a good year, and probably my favorite. It was labor intensive, and I was pleased to be in a position to do it.
I didn’t do it alone, not by any means. Many friends donated goods and cash and helped to fill the bags. I did go alone to drop them off. The reaction of the women who worked there was worth it.
Remembering a Friend on Giving Tuesday
A friend of mine passed a few months back. We went to high school together. We actually met at sixth grade science camp, you know, forever ago! As happened so often in pre-Facebook/technology days, we went our separate way after graduation. Facebook put me back in touch with many from my childhood, including her.
The people I grew up with and the experiences we had are the fabrics of my childhood. Aileen was a bright purple piece of sparkly fabric.
Her heart, kindness, and love of life never changed from the girl I knew way back when. She was funny and brilliant, a musician, an artist and generous. She believed in showing kindness to others all the time. She gave back, hugged trees, had wonderful adventures, and a tribe that was fierce. She was a mom, sister, daughter, friend, school teacher…she impacted every child that was ever in her classroom, as well as many parents and peers.
When she shared her cancer diagnosis and left her school, I was touched by the response of the children and her fellow teachers. The love, devotion, and support she received was…overwhelming to see. A Facebook group was created so she could easily keep everyone updated on her progress. She shared the good, the bad, the hilarious, and the very real reals of her fight for life. It was a large group and she called us her parachute. To know someone who touched so many lives was quite special.
By the way, #cancersucks and she was so young. It’s just not right.
To honor her and her memory, two of her students and a fellow teacher began Harber’s Hope Club. Their mission is to spread hope and happiness in whatever means they can to honor their beloved teacher. They are a small and mighty group, and incredibly young, wise, and giving. You can see a news clip about them here and what they have done in their community.
She was on my mind yesterday. It was her kind of day. A special day dedicated to giving back. I’ve wanted to do something to honor her and what she gave the world. I’ve been struggling with what I could possibly do.
The Purple Light
Recently on the nights I leave work and it’s gotten dark, there is a beautiful purple light that glows the parking lot. The first time I saw it it was after she died. I had set the alarm, turned to leave and stopped in my tracks. It took my breath away. The parking lot and street beyond had turned purple. Even the cars that drove by were purple.
Purple was her color and I immediately knew it was her, stopping by to say hi. I pulled myself together and left the building. I had set the alarm after all, and I only had about a minute to get out before it went off. Explaining I’d stopped to marvel at the purple light somehow didn’t sound like it would fly.
I stood in the parking lot smiling, crying a little and watching the purple cars go by. It was beautiful and SO purple! After a few minutes I began looking around and realized that the city had changed the lightbulb in the streetlight out front. It was the only light for as far as I could see that casts a purple hue. When I leave work after that light comes on, I say hi to Aileen and thank her for watching over all of us. It’s still the only one.
I have thought long and hard about how to honor my friend and her memory. I mean, if she can light my way to my car with a beautiful purple glow, it’s a sign! I’ve decided that I will donate $1 from each sale in my online store to a group or organization close to my heart. There are a few, and as I collect, I will make my list and put the money aside in a savings account. When the time is right, I will donate it.
It’s truly amazing how one person can have such an impact on those around them. I encourage you to spread hope, happiness, and kindness to others each day. It’s not just a holiday thing, but something we can do all year long. Whether it’s blessing bags, delivering food to those in need, paying for the persons order behind you in the drive-thru, or smiling at a stranger, you will make a difference. The smallest effort often means the most to those who don’t have that in their lives
I’d love to hear about your planned and random acts of kindness. You can share your stories on my Facebook page or comment here. You never know who you might inspire.