Today marks the third anniversary since losing our son Leo. A few months after he died, we did one of our first Random Acts of Kindness (RAK or #LeoRAK) in his memory by purchasing a birthday cake for a stranger on what would be his due date. For his first anniversary, we did the same thing — bought a cake for someone and then we added more #LeoRAK ideas to the list. We donated books. We sponsored a Lion. We donated to various organizations in his name. Last year for his second anniversary, we did more of the same.
This year was no different, but we decided on an ideal number of RAK’s to complete — 12. We chose this number as it represents the months between honoring his last anniversary, and 12 because it’s the day of the month that we lost him.
Our day started off early! We both had doctor appointments with our IVF doctors to have a medical exam as we are preparing for IVF in short order. We made a stop to pick up some sweet treats to leave with the staff at our fertility clinic. This was #LeoRAK number 1 of the day! It was great to leave a note behind to let them know that we were honoring our son, but, that we were also there today to begin our new journey with their help. We were excited to start our day off this way!
Next, I had a haircut appointment (some kindness for me, too!) and stopped off for lunch. For our RAK number 2, we tipped our server more than our lunch amount. That was really a fun thing to do!
Next, we headed off #LeoRAK number 3 which was a local organization that serves as a homeless shelter, but also helps improve the lives of members of our homeless community by providing them the tools to help them move to high levels of self-reliance. Usually organizations like this will have wish lists that they will post that will list items that they are most in need of to continue to help serve their communities. When we dropped off the diapers, the coordinator commented that this was the biggest box of diapers that she has seen. And that the fact of the matter is, if they run out of diapers, then they run out of diapers. That child may have to deal with not having enough diapers to keep him (and everyone around him) comfortable. We were so glad to be able to help provide a supply that will help, even for a short while. My husband also included lots of socks, which I thought was a brilliant idea. With the Fall and Winter seasons quickly approaching, simple things like this are taken for granted.
After we finished with this drop-off, we headed over to a local animal shelter in hopes of pre-paying some adoption fees for a cat (or FOUR!) When we got there to ask, they were delighted to help us. They told us to go to the building where the cats are waiting to be adopted and spend some time with the cats and choose to sponsor individual cats that just clicked for us. We were all about that! We took a look and found a couple right away that we wanted to sponsor. We had the intention of sponsoring one, but walked away sponsoring two adult cats and two kittens! So that took care of #LeoRAKs number 4, 5, and 6! The kittens were siblings and their foster parents were really hoping that they would be adopted together, and that’s what we were really hoping as well. We sponsored another cat that was about a year old because she reminded us of both of our cats combined! The final cat that we sponsored was a 15-year old cat. My heart broke for her that after her long life she was spending time in a shelter. Our hope is that she finds a nice and comfortable home with someone that understands that at her age, sleep is what’s on the agenda. Lots of sleep and cuddles.
When we were pregnant with Leo, the only cat we had at the time was Immie. We adopted Zappa about a year later. We had always wondered what Immie would have been like when Leo came home. She seemed awfully snuggly with him when he was in my belly. From the moment I got pregnant, she began to never leave my side, including sleeping right next to my growing belly. It was the sweetest thing. I remember how much comfort she gave us after Leo died. There were days when I was barely able to get out of bed and stop the tears from falling. Those were the days where she would cuddle extra close and smell the tears on my cheeks and then head butt me.
Finally, I’ll never forget how she reacted when we brought Leo’s ashes home in his tiny heart-shaped urn. She just smelled it. And then I put it down and she laid her head right on top of his urn and cuddled with it. That’s the kind of love we wanted to share with others. Our hope is that they would be able to treat their cat to extra special treats with the money the saved and also to express to them that we were so thankful that they chose adoption.
Running around all morning and all afternoon made us have a case of the yawns! So, we decided we needed a Starbucks run. Since we were there, we decided to do a quick act of kindness to bring us to #LeoRAK number 7 and paid for the order for the truck behind us. The barista that helped us was all smiles as he was excited to help us complete this act of kindness.
Now that we were all fueled up we continued forward to RAK number 8. This is our tradition of heading to a local bakery and asking if there were any birthday cakes on order that we could pay for. We struck out at the first bakery we went to, so we made a call to another bakery and found that someone had a birthday cake for Burt on order. Happy birthday Burt! We hope you enjoy your cake.
We were now off to do #LeoRAK number 9. We headed to our local Toys ‘R Us and were going to attempt to deliver an act of kindness face-to-face! We were really nervous as we weren’t sure how receptive a complete stranger would feel about us two coming up to them and their child or children offering up a gift and a note card. As we were entering in, there was a mother and daughter ahead of us. I tugged on my husband’s arm and I whispered “let’s pick them.” We rushed inside to try and buy the gift card faster than they could find whatever it was they were going to purchase so that we could give them this gift and allow her little girl to do a little extra shopping! We managed to get in rather quickly as one of the workers decided to open a new register to help speed the lines up. This man’s act of kindness to us was our saving grace! After we purchased the card we were excitedly looking for this mother and daughter duo. And just like that, they appeared from around the corner. The little girl had a toy in her hand and I finally got up the nerve to tell her that we were performing random acts of kindness today and that we wanted to give her a gift card to buy herself or someone else a little something extra. I then gave them the little card that we wrote up to give along with the gift that tells the recipient that we are doing these acts of kindness in memory of our baby son Leo. This mother’s reaction was instant. Warm and comforting and immediately embraced me. She hugged me so genuinely, we all began to tear up. We wanted to leave before we really started crying! As we walked away, her little girl yelled after us … “God bless!” It was so memorable.
After the success of this one, we decided to head over to the grocery store next door and try the in-person RAK again. So for #LeoRAK number 10, we purchased a gift card and felt a little shy once again, but, we built up the courage and walked up to a man that was just about to pay for his groceries. We offered him the gift card to help pay for his groceries, and instantly I could see his gratitude in his eyes. We were thankful to witness this.
After a quick stop home to cuddle with our kittens, we headed off to dinner to fuel up some more to complete our final two acts of kindness.
For #LeoRAK number 11, we went to one of my favorite stores, Barnes & Noble. One of the visions that we had in our minds as we imagined a life with Leo was being able to read him lots and lots of books. So even though it was after 9 PM already, we went into B&N and picked up a gift card. We asked the cashier to give it to someone after us along with the note card we had written out.
#LeoRAK number 12 was our final act of kindness. We reserved that for for ourselves. After spending an entire day honoring our son with acts of kindness for others, we spent that time reflecting on the qualities that we each love about each other. About why we chose to honor our son in this way. We spent an entire day speaking kind words and sitting deep with the love we have for our son. We acknowledge that his absence has caused us the deepest pain we’ve ever known, but also know that the depth of that grief is due to the depth of our love for him. And we honor him by being the best parents that we can be to him. So, we spent the day being kind to ourselves, for in showing kindness to others we are rewarding ourselves at the highest level. Sometimes being kind to ourselves, especially when we may have moments that are steeped in pain, becomes a tall order. But we must do this.
Thank you for joining us as we shared this special day of kindness in honor of our dearest son. We appreciate all of you that joined us with your own random acts of kindness, whether it was in honor of Leo, or in honor of someone else that you love. We will always make an effort to choose kindness, for its rewards are far greater than any amount that we give. And if you are ever in an position to choose, always choose kindness.
We love you, Leo. And although you are not physically here, you will always be with us. We are your parents and that has been your greatest act of kindness to us. Thank you, Leo.