This is the time of the year that many runners participate in a Runner’s Streak – where they run at least one mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. It creates camaraderie between the runners, and everyone uses the hashtag #runstreak. A fun way to stay healthy and motivated during the holidays.
Yesterday I was talking to my neighbor and she told me a story about running into a friend at the grocery store. While they paused in the aisle to talk, a woman came by clearly irritated and boldly proclaimed “move your carts”. No please, no effort to be pleasant – just a frustrated shopper taking it out on complete strangers. Why? Why do we let ourselves take out our emotions on others? Isn’t this supposed to be a happy time of year?
Then I was thinking about my friend Brea. Brea has one of the most gentle, kind, and giving hearts of anyone. In January of this year, her son Kent was born with a heart condition. In May, he passed away. In Brea’s words
At our 20 week anatomy ultrasound, we learned that our little boy had a special heart. After many, many appointments, we learned he had a rare congenital heart disease known as Double Inlet Left Ventricle. One of his ventricles in his heart did not form. Essentially, he would be born with half of heart. We were ready. Kent would need surgery to fix his heart, but he would lead a mostly normal life.
The surgery was scheduled for the day he turned 4 months old. It was pushed back two days, because two heart transplants had our surgeon’s attention. They were more crucial, more serious. My husband and I waited in the outpatient waiting room, from the time it opened until the time it closed. Our son’s surgery was to take 5 hours. It took 15 hours. We watched families come, check-in, and then leave with a “success.” We waited. And waited. And waited.
Our cardiologist came and brought us food. She prayed over us. We cried big crocodile tears. Can’t breath tears.
That first night was hell. We were told we’d be lucky if he made it through the night. That he was losing a lot of blood. It was nearly 24 hours before I actually saw my son. He still had an open chest, he was hooked up to a bypass machine, and he was getting blood transfusions constantly. He was bleeding out. The doctor on call that night told us, “Have I ever seen a kid this sick survive? Well.. yes. But I don’t know.”
He was hooked up to over 16 different medicines going into him at once. They wanted to make sure he didn’t bleed out, but also make sure his bypass machine didn’t clot up. It was a fine balance. I stayed by his bedside for 4 days. On Mother’s Day of this year, a clot went to my son’s brain, and he was pronounced brain dead the following day. My husband and I had to make the choice to remove our son from life support.
I would never, ever wish that on anyone. I held my son in my arms, in his baptism gown, to cover his open chest. I watched him take his very last breath. I felt like I was going to take my very last breath.
Even reading this again brings tears to my eyes. Amidst their own heart-break, Brea and her husband Brad donated Kent’s organs so that other children might have a chance at life. And then Brea made it her mission to keep Kent’s legacy alive by encouraging others to simply be kind to one another.
These three things got me thinking. Instead of (or in addition to) a run-streak this year, what if we all made an attempt to complete a kindness-streak? One act of kindness a day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
One act of kindness a day.
If you do one thing today, please check out the Kindness for Kent page on Facebook and join the group. See how others are spreading kindness and honoring Kent. If that doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit, I don’t know what will. (There are also tags you can print off and leave when you complete an act of kindness – to bring awareness to Kent’s story and CHD as well). And don’t forget to use the hashtag #kindnessforkent so others can follow along on Instagram and Facebook and be inspired!
And if you do two things today – make that second thing an act of kindness. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Words and actions are a wonderful way to show someone you care. Compliment someone’s outfit, hold the door, give a smile – all ways to show kindness today…for Kent.
Will you join the kindness-streak?