In November, I wrote to a friend who had sadly been taken into a hospice (last stages of breast cancer) and I told her how much she had touched my life – and the lives of those around her. I wrote that she was, for me, the very definition of inspirational and that to give so much of herself even though she had little time left, was incredible.
Why am I telling you this?
I’m telling you because her mother replied. My friend had passed away in the night and would never find out just how much I thought of her.
I should have known better really. Three years ago, I had my own lesson in kindness. It was for Christmas 2013 that I decided to make more than 200 handmade gifts for friends and family – an act that took me away from those friends and family for a good three months.
I thought that what I was doing was the ultimate gift of kindness.
Turns out, I didn’t really have a clue. Then cancer came along to make sure I'd really learned my lesson.
The kind words are the words I remember going through breast cancer treatment. And, by kind, I mean everything from shared memories to a paperclip and a message about helping me to hold it all together when times got tough. People told me how I’d helped them, changed them, made them laugh and made them smile. I guess they thought there was a chance I might not be around long enough to hear those words in the future.
Words moved me in the way they have the power to move us all. They forced me to reflect on just how little we tend to say to the people that inspire us or make us smile.
So, I decided from that moment on, that words would be my currency. I started a pink hearts campaign while on active treatment, which involved writing a thank you and sharing the memories I treasure with the people who have touched my life. To this day I am still delivering them (and the accompanying hearts) to remind me of the pledge I made to myself.
I don’t always get it right (as the above example demonstrates). But I start each day with a plan to reach out to someone and tell them I care.
So, as you reflect on the year, ask yourself this. When was the last time you turned to a friend and thanked them for just being there? When was the last time you contacted an old acquaintance and told them just how big an impression they have made on your life? When was the last time you thanked someone and meant it from the bottom of your heart?
People can’t guess you’re your thinking unless you tell them. When the business of life gets in the way, it is hard to step back, reflect and not take all those you love and admire for granted.
But, I can tell you now, there is so much I want to say to people while they are still around to hear it!
People come and go in life, tucked away in chapters. But, their kindness will live on through you. I’d love to think that if someone were to cut me open (in a nice, non-cancer-surgery kind of way), I would be made up all of the brilliant people who have touched my life.
Make today the day you thank someone who matters to you. What is it about them that makes you smile? What it is you should have told them years ago, but never thought to mention? How have they helped make you the person you are today?
I guarantee you’ll feel good saying it – but not as good as the person hearing it (especially if it’s for the first time).
Make today the day you start following your heart. Trust me, there’s no time to lose.