I have been writing a lot, both to Olivia and to the universe, but to be fair I haven't felt like sharing in a while. I feel that the last couple of times I started something here I was angry at something and I don't want to turn this into a ranting only space. So today, and because my friends and family back home need every possible reason to smile, I want to share the massive power of kindness from strangers.
On the 26th of April Pierre was on his way home before me and as it was nice and sunny I asked him to stop by Olivia's bench to check that the flowers we planted were giving us any signs of life. Amazingly, he found something even better when he got there: our first ever (and so far only) "Bench mail"
The yellow tape, the fact that it was a Mind charity card and the lovely words on the front were the most amazing surprise. When I got his message as I was 3 stops away so I literally jumped out and ran home once we got to our stop. During the time I received the photo and the moment we opened the card I had so many possibilities going through my mind, but the top 2 were:
1. The council has finally realised that we've been doing some "guerrilla gardening" around the bench and they are telling us to stop in the nicest way possible.
2. Mind charity got wind that I wanted to volunteer for them during maternity leave and that I wanted to make them my charity of the year before Olivia died (sorry, Sands and Tommy's have taken that spot forever), and they were asking me to please still help them.
I was wrong in both accounts and reality blew me away in ways I can't describe. Below there are pictures of what we found written inside a Thank You card:
To this day I still can't shake (nor do I want to) the feeling of happiness and pure amazement I felt when I read that card. I mean, I think I'm a pretty nice person to everyone and I have a lot of friends who are truly amazing in the most selfless ways; but this was something else. A complete stranger took time off their day whilst visiting their family from Australia to let us know they were thinking of us and that they liked Olivia's bench and flowers. Are you with me here? Can you believe this!!???
Naturally I needed to respond, but I had no idea how I could reach Christine or if she was even still in London! Nevertheless, I wrote her a letter, put it in a ziploc bag just in case it rained and left her a little yellow freesia (my favorites) and added some tulips the day after (we checked before and after work to see if it had been picked up. This time I included all my personal information just in case she ever wanted to meet, but I had very low hopes that this would ever be picked up...
AMAZINGLY, I was wrong and Christine did reach out on e-mail and after a few exchanges of e-mails and texts, we decided to meet on the bank holiday Monday at a cafe near us because we were going to be away for the weekend... This was truly exciting and I felt like I was in a movie but finally it was on the good side of things.
Pierre and I spent the weekend on the beach and we managed to have a really good time, we enjoyed the much needed sun and we spoke about the amazing people Christine and her husband Silvio must be. I for one thought about Monday non stop and was quite nervous as to what I would say to them to make sure I could communicate just how thankful I was (and am) for them.
Monday arrived, we landed in London and went home for a quick shower and change before we went to meet our new friends.
Christine and Silvio both have kind eyes and smiles and as soon as we arrived it was as if we knew each other all along, hugs all-around and a mixture of smiles and tears (mostly from me at this stage!). We got coffees and pastries and we talked about everything, family, life, death, babies, food, politics and each other. They told us about them and the epic life they have in Australia and we made plans to visit them one day. Christine and I both cried when we talked about Olivia and we shared with them some of the most precious things and memories we have of our little awesome daughter.
These people changed our lives for the better and I can only hope that one day I could potentially do the same for someone. I even day dream that the flowers we leave on Olivia's bench every 19th will bring even a tiny bit of the joy that Christine and Silvio brought to us that day.
For everyone reading, please never underestimate the power of a single act of kindness and the effect it can have on someone's life. We all have struggles and we all sometimes need to be picked up from bad and low places. At the same time, I'm sure everyone reading would love to make the world a better place but might not know where to start. Know this, if every one of the people who follows me on social media would do a random act of kindness then we could potentially make 3171 people smile - I think that's quite a bit impact and one that we should all be proud of.
I for one have always liked the idea and I do things every now and then for random people, but after Christine and Silvio changed my life I have decided to add this to a formal monthly good doing, along with Olivia's flowers. I'm happy with the idea that I can make someone that doesn't know who I am smile and have warm and fuzzy feeling for one day of their lives.
The world can be a horrible place, but people like Christine and Silvio truly show that humanity is also amazing and we have an incredible amount of good to give; we just have to go for it!