Sunday, November 30, 2014

Would you like Frie(nd)s with that?

Friends are friends forever....

The Te@chthought Blog Challenge for today, November 30 

Practice an act of kindness this week and blog about your experience

  It's the holidays - officially - right?  It seems odd to me that the prompt for the last day of the month of gratitude is an assignment and reminder to practice kindness.  And to be honest, the thought of practicing an act of kindness for a week takes me right back to November 1st, basically tying up a month of celebration and remembrance of gratitude.

That may be confusing to those who don't know me well.  So here's the background.

November 1st is, or should I say was, the birthday of one of my oldest friends - Amy.  Amy was diagnosed with appendix cancer four years ago - which at the time she joked about the absurdity of something so small and useless causing so much trouble in her life.  She fought harder than anyone in the world has ever fought, going through countless surgeries.  The cancer didn't kill her.  The treatment for the cancer did.

If that horrible story and injustice seems like more than one can bear, consider the fact that Amy was one of the kindest people I have ever known -- the type of person who recognized the unrecognizable in society.  She worked as a special education teacher with the most profoundly differently-abled.  Her first classroom was in the basement of a school in Philadelphia next to the boiler room, so the noises of her class wouldn't "bother" the educational process in the school.  She made that little room a home for her class.  She went on to other schools in other districts, but never left that population of students.

When we were in high school, we'd take the train into Philadelphia.  Amy always bought a large frenchfries at McDonalds, and would look for a homeless person to give them to -- and then stand over them and demand that they find a friend to share them with.  She valued friendship, and insisted that the homeless needed to know that they at least had each other.

When I saw this story on Inspiyr, I thought of Amy.  Her life was dedicated to given faces to the faceless of society.  I could see her sharing this story on facebook, or being the person at school demanding justice for Jennie.

On November 1st, Amy's friends all agreed to celebrate her memory by practicing a RAC.  (Random Act of Coffee or Chocolate - two things she dearly celebrated.) We bought coffee or chocolate for strangers, and shared Amy's story with them.

Since Amy's death, her family has celebrated two important milestones without her.  Son #1 just got engaged to the girl of his dreams, and Son #2 was married - the day after what would have been Amy's 53rd birthday.  I know she knows, and is smiling somewhere, as she dearly loved both Catherine and Dani.

When I think about the injustices surrounding Amy's death, given all that she contributed to this world and to a population usually overlooked, I have great difficulty.  But this is the new reality for all of her friends, and this week will be a celebration of gratitude, and Amy will be with me.  And I bet if I nudge a few of her friends, we can change the world.

One french fry at a time.

Let the blogging and kindness begin!