Monday, March 28, 2011

Kindness Counts: Giraffe


This week's story comes from Shauna at Christian's Journey.


Today is the second in our Kindness Counts series and guess who's turn it is...

It's my turn!

And our goal in this series is to spread how acts of kindness can effect you,
your neighbor, or even a stranger. Kindness is contagious and we were so
inspired byBen's Bells and their message, we wanted to pass it along!

And it started with a giraffe...

The morning after Christian's accident I remember standing in the lobby of the
hospital in the elevator bay. I don't know how I got there, but I think we were
headed toward the cafeteria, and I'm even sure about that.

I remember seeing a delivery guy in that elevator bay. I don't remember his
face, but I remember him being the only person in this busy area holding a
stuffed giraffe and bouquet of floating Mylar balloons. And I remember thinking
- Awww, how sweet it is to send that to somebody. Whoever that's going to is a
lucky kid.

The next memory I have is walking into Christian's PICU room not fifteen minutes
later. He was in bad shape, but he made it through the night, my little soldier.
On his bed sat a stuffed giraffe with a bouquet of balloons. And I thought -
He ISthe luckiest little boy...

I didn't realize there were people in this world that acted on kindness and
empathy alone. I mean I had heard of it, but never really experienced the
magnitude of it until we faced life and death. I'm not going to begin to pick
apart the meaning of kindness and what it can do because I simply don't have
words that are powerful enough to explain the phenomenon of kindness.

But, that's the thing about's about actions, not words.

I've mentioned the first trip to my beloved Target after the accident and while
Christian was in the PICU a time or two. This was the Target I would usually
take my bouncing boy to browse the Dollar Spot on a lazy weekday. But I was
walking through those doors without him to buy socks to ward off the freezing
cold nighttime chill of the hospital. I wondered if people could see the pain on
my face. I wondered if people could understand how much pain I was in because it
felt that bad. So bad it seeped out of the pours of my skin and the dark circles
under my eyes.

I don't think they saw it. And that's the point, nobody knows how much pain the
next person is in. We go on about our day, unaware, that the person taking a
little extra time at the cash register might have a personal battle they're
attending to. That lady who didn't make her left turn quickly enough might have
a child in the PICU.

Be aware. Be nice. Smile. It meant the world to me then. And I know it will mean
the world to someone if you pass it along.

That stuffed giraffe and bouquet of Mylar balloons were from my August Moms.
Through these moms and their power of kindness, others were moved to act and the
entire experience has proved to me that a bunch of moms can truly move
mountains. Those August Moms are the epitome of what I'm referring to in trying
to explain the phenomenon of kindness. There were countless ways in which they
showed their love and care for us, even with simple emails and cards, that will
remain with me as inspiration to be a better person to this day. And it all
started with a giraffe.

Which, of course, is way more than a giraffe.

The infamous giraffe still sits and watches over my little boy. And my little
boy is still lucky. Giraffe still has the small card addressed to Christian
Quintero, UMC ICU around his neck. I won't remove the card, not yet. It's a
reminder of what kindness and selflessness really mean. It's about the actions
behind the words printed on the envelope.


Spread it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kindness Counts!


Today begins a new series, called "Kindness Counts" - a weekly feature by me or a guest poster (hopefully mostly guest posters) about acts of kindness and their impact.

The goal? To spread the message of kindness. To help people realize that acts of kindness, no matter how small, can make an impact and change our world and our outlook.

This post from Jenny at The Fisch Tank
How to choose an act of kindness that made an impact on us? So many choices.

We were in the PICU, sitting with our 11 month old baby, who had recently gotten her MRI - still in a coma on a ventilator, and we found out about the global injury to her brain. The time she went without oxygen after choking on her dinner was long enough for severe damage. Despite being surrounded by amazing family, friends, and probably thousands of people sending healing thoughts to our girl, we felt utterly ALONE. This situation, this life, this child. No one knew what to do. No one knew what to tell us. They were coming along on our journey, and we were leading, with no clue whatsoever as to where we were headed.

A doctor came to visit - a doctor who worked at the hospital, in the special care clinic. A clinic for kids that are "complicated" with special needs. The doctor had heard about us in a strange way, through her brother, who was my husbands co-worker. Without telling us, she knew what we were facing. I remember her words "you have two big hurdles, breathing, and eating" - if you get past those you are going to be in a good place. She was so right. Turns out we got past the breathing (extubation) hurdle, but not the eating hurdle (thus the g-tube).

I also remember this very wise doctor of ours saying in later visits that in this world of special needs, that we should be careful. Careful to have the attitude we want to have. There are a lot of angry, bitter people in this new world we were now in, and if we don't want to live in that place, that we should be careful. Being the sneaky matchmaker she is, she knew another mom with a special needs child in her clinic, and told her a bit about us (without names, I'm sure). That mom gave the doctor her information so I could reach out if I wanted to. That mom also gave her a gift to give me.

The doctor printed up a copy of "Welcome to Holland" and brought us this gift from this mom.

In that gift bag I found a file folder and a notebook. Wow. I didn't even think I needed these things until I saw them. Suddenly all the pieces of paper, consents, information sheets, receipts, forms, everything - every thing had a home. Suddenly we had a place to stuff business cards, and concern areas, and phone numbers and lists of questions. It made me feel better to put order and organization into our lives while we were in this place where we felt spun out of control, and everything was out of our hands. Clearly, this was a gift from someone who really knows what this is like. It was the very first step to getting ourselves together and in a place where we could be an advocate for our daughter.



And then I took out this mom's contact information. And I wrote her an email.

Despite being in the middle of a move, and the middle of birthday celebrations for her big five year old boy, she wrote back with kind words, understanding and empathy. And I had my first friend in the special needs world we had just be thrown into.

And just like that, I didn't feel alone anymore.

And now that mom, my friend Deana, is one of the women in my core support group, my "supermoms." And our "matchmaker" doctor couldn't have been more right. I feel like I am in the right place thanks to this first friend in my "new world."

To this day, this file folder and notebook go almost everywhere with me. Can you tell?


Coinciding with the start of this series also begins a great online auction - one that will benefit both Cici's special needs trust and Ben's Bells equally. Ben's Bells is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire, educate and motivate each other to realize the impact of intentional kindness and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby changing our world.

Ben's Bells is bringing a distribution of bells to Colorado in May - the funds raised in this auction will go towards funding that distribution. Visit Be Kind Colorado for local details about Ben's Bells. The auction runs from Monday March 21 - Monday March 28. Go to or click below to check out the auction! Starts Monday at noon central time.