Long after the last meal is delivered and the last sympathy card is sent, people’s pain lingers on.
I know this because I’ve been the recipient of many warm meals. That’s what happens when you’ve lived through a lot of trauma like I have: abuse, cancer, infertility, two children with autism, a spouse found unresponsive on our bedroom floor. If you’re lucky, when things go bad, the good rushes in. A tidal wave of support engulfs you.
But, slowly, people return to their everyday lives — and rightfully so. We can’t expect someone to grieve at the same pace as us forever.
But the problem is, the pain remains. As the world moved on without me, my circumstances remained the same. My kids will always have a disability. My husband will always have a failing heart. And sometimes it feels like you’re forgotten, like you’re out on the island of pain and suffering all alone. Sometimes it feels like support would be more appropriately offered not when tragedy occurs but six months later. After all, years may pass, yet here we remain, still teaching my children basic human instincts like eye contact and speech.
And then came the muffins.
During the center of our storm, that summer when every single family member of mine received a life-altering diagnosis, my friend delivered homemade apple crisp muffins to our doorstep. New foods are a challenge for my daughter, who has adverse sensory needs due to her autism, but she devoured every bite of that delicious baked good. A small miracle that still brings me to tears.
You see, at the time those muffins showed up on my doorstep, I had lost my capacity to bake. In fact, I had lost my capacity to even bathe. I was drowning in grief and loss and fear of the unknown. My depression had taken a dark and deep turn. So the fact that someone gave my child what I couldn’t — kindness and cake — was an exceptional lifesaving act of love.
It’s been three years since that summer. Since the demolition and rebuild of my faith and family. But every year, no matter what, apple muffins appear on my doorstep addressed to my daughter. The meals have stopped. Most people have indeed moved on. No one asks anymore about autism or our daily challenges as a family walking through chronic illness.
But every year, one very important person remembers that the best thing we can do for another human being is to consistently show up for them.
Small sentiments make a big impact. They let people know their pain matters.
May we always remember the importance of kindness — and cake.