The Kindness of Strangers

Kind and caring words are some of the best gifts

Kind and caring words are some of the best gifts

It was really hard to see Andrew’s hair fall out.  It was incredibly difficult as Andrew’s skin went from pale to pasty and straight on to completely colorless.  It was annoying that he had to wear a face mask to go anywhere at all.  It was lonely to be isolated.  It was really hard to balance the doctor visits, the need for prescription medicines and Andrew’s need to be germ-free with the time crunch and necessity of getting the meds while we were in town to save on two hours of driving.

But oddly enough, all of those things led to a completely unexpected blessing.

Often, after a chemotherapy treatment, we needed to stop by the pharmacy for the follow-up medicines for the next week (insurance dictated that we could never order ahead).  On those days, I had no choice but to take Andrew into the store with me.  This was an ordeal.

It involved wiping the shopping cart down with a Clorox wipes, laying a clean blanket down, fastening Andrew’s mask securely over his mouth and nose and helping him into the basket, where he would flop down with nausea and exhaustion.

Since we lived an hour from town, I would order the prescription and then grab groceries while we waited.

This story isn’t sounding like a blessing, is it?  It didn’t feel like it at the time either.

Except that every single time we had to do this, something kind of amazing happened.  It would go a little like this:

“Oh my dear,” kind eyes peered out of a wrinkled face, “what kind of cancer does he have?”

“He has leukemia.”  I kept my replies simple.

“How old is he?” 


“Oh my.”  The little head would shake, “Bless you my dear, I cannot imagine how hard this must be for you.  I had cancer two years ago and I know how miserable the treatment makes you.  Bless his heart.  Would it be okay if I pray for you?  How long is his treatment?”

“We have about three more years.  And of course, we would love for you to pray!”

Certainly the description and the details changed with each pass through the store, but I began to see that there is a huge community of cancer survivors out there, and there is a huge community of strangers who have not had cancer, but still notice a person in need.  People who care.  People who pay attention.  People who listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

None of the strangers in the store gave any money, or gifts or anything tangible – they simply gave a moment of their time, some words of encouragement and some prayers of blessing.

And I will never forget their kindness.

In the worst moments of caregiving the kindness of strangers can make a huge difference! #write31days #caregiving via @caregivermom Click To Tweet

Read more in the series 31 Days of Unexpected Blessing from Caregiving.

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  • Unexpected surprise blessings. I can so relate. Bless you!
    Karen Sebastian recently posted…Saturating Thoughts with Hope (Part 2)My Profile

  • How beautiful, Carol. The fact that you see kindness, blessing in the shadow of cancer, speaks loudly. It’s a reminder for all of us to find the daily blessings, even amid life’s “hard”. Prayers for your son, although I see your picture has noted “recovering” caregiver. Hopefully, that means you’re well past cancer and onto the road of remission. Visiting today via #testimonyTuesday.
    Kristi Woods recently posted…How do You Handle Hard Conversations?My Profile

  • There were probably unseen ones praying for you and your son as they saw you as well. I tend to do that – I feel they might think it weird for a stranger to approach them about something so personal, and I don’t talk to strangers easily in the first place, but I try to pray for them immediately or soon aterward. But maybe I should sometimes let people know in situations like that that I’m praying for them.
    Barbara H. recently posted…31 Days With Elisabeth Elliot: No Further Than Natural ThingsMy Profile

  • Now you’ve given me inspiration to be a little more outgoing when I see someone with cancer. For some reason, I’ve never thought of asking a stranger if I could pray with them–how powerful!
    Anita Ojeda recently posted…The Looming Crisis I Didn’t See ComingMy Profile

  • Oh how sweet the kindnesses of strangers can sometimes be. You brought tears to my eyes as I pictured the scene. So many suffer, so that they may comfort others in their suffering as Christ has comforted us.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • The courage and faith I read in your posts, Carol, are beyond comprehension. Amazing really.
    Susan Shipe recently posted…day 20: counselMy Profile

  • Tara

    The beauty of prayer. I love that verse you used in your image today. For only everyone lived those words out the world would be a better place, don’t you think? So glad you were blessed by these beautiful strangers.

  • What a beautiful blessing you experienced. God is so good to provide in those moments when you’re not sure how you will take one more step. I pray that I may do this for someone else someday. Knowing how it made you feel makes it so important for me to be aware of in the future.
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Saying Yes Changes Everything ~ Day 21My Profile