Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Small Acts of Kindness
Acts of kindness that help us take steps in our journey don’t have to be big. This month is the anniversary of my sister-in-law’s death. I remember the evening I received the call like it was yesterday.
I walked into work after a day of studying at the library at MSU-Billings. A huge paper for my historiography class was giving me some problems. As I said my hellos, the assistant manager growled at me to call my husband. I don’t like to be told what to do when it comes to my private life, so I told him I would when it slows down. The dinner rush was in full swing. Jim, my friend and manager, told me no. “Now, it is important.” This scared me. My husband was a mess when he got on the phone. His little sister was killed in a winter storm pile up in Minnesota. The world instantly turned surreal. I told him I would leave right away. My dear father-in-law got on the phone. “You stay there. I will not have another daughter out on these roads in this storm. All of Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota were experiencing a huge blizzard. I was in Billings, my mother-in-law was in North Dakota, and the rest of the family (husband and son to name just a few) was in the north east corner of Montana. To say that was one of the longest nights of my life is not an exaggeration. I traveled home the next morning. The four hour trip took about five hours the roads were so bad. The rest of the week was a blur.
During this time of grief, I was amazed at the people who helped me get through the darkness of mourning a loved one. I really struggled the first two weeks back at college. What was I doing leaving my one-year-old just to get a degree? I prayed to God. Shouldn’t I be quitting school and spending what time I had left on earth with my loved ones? Like I mentioned earlier, I was struggling with a paper. I needed ten primary sources and twenty secondary sources. When I left for the highline, I only had two primary sources and had hit a brick wall. So, I told God whether I stayed in school was up to him. If I was meant to stay, I would get the eight books I needed. If I didn’t, I was headed home.
My historiography teacher was also a minister. The first ten minutes of class he would take me aside to counsel me on my loss. I told him about my problem with the sources and my potential of returning home. He sent me to the Dean. Now, I had never met this man in my life, but he was an avid Civil War buff. He lent me three to five of his primary source books from his personal collection. I found the rest of the books I needed from the Salish Kootenai College. God gave me the books. He gave them through the generosity of people taking time out to help a grieving student.
Also during this time, a fellow tutor at the writing lab handed me an envelope. She was a mom of teenage kids who returned to college. She was always a calming presence in the lab and in classes. In the envelope was a cut out copy of my sister-in-law’s obituary. “I thought in all the chaos you might not have had the chance to get a copy.” I hadn’t. The gift meant the world to me. She also gave me a motherly hug and took extra time to check up on me the next couple of months. God sent these three people to me. But most importantly, they listened to God.
Blessing to you all.