Many today say they are losing faith in humanity – after all, all we ever hear on the news are tales of the worst of human depravity, corruption and greed. It’s hard to have faith in our society, when all we hear are negative reports about how we’re seemingly headed south in a hand basket. Now, I’ve always chosen to have faith in people – despite the reports otherwise, I think that overall we’re doing okay. I believe, I know, that love, compassion and generosity still abound in the hearts of people – it just never seems to make headlines. Sometimes I wonder how much better off we might be if we read, heard and saw more positive stories on the news, instead of always being bombarded with negativity. Sometimes, I think what this world needs is a reminder of all that is right with our world.
And so, I bring you this story, this reminder that we are doing okay. That selflessness and generosity are still there in the hearts of people, especially in our youth (who seem to be getting an increasingly bad rap these days). I don’t find it a small coincidence that this happened just as we are headed into the Christmas season. What better time for a story on selfless giving?
For those of you who regularly read my column, or my online blog, you may have read my story about “Baby”. Baby is my daughter’s Strawberry Shortcake doll. She came into our home when my daughter was less than a year old, and she has been a permanent part of our family since. Most children become attached to a “sooky” of some sort – sometimes it’s a blanket, a teddy or a doll. That item is their constant companion – a toy, playmate and comfort, all rolled into one. Parents tend to be sentimental about the item, and normally once the item has been outgrown, they are generally tucked away with the other special mementos of childhood.
Like all sookies, Baby is invaluable, irreplaceable. And on Friday, we lost her. We don’t know how, or where for sure. We were running errands in the morning, we were in and out of the car a few different times and places. We can only assume that she fell or was knocked out of the car accidentally, when our daughter was climbing in/out of the car. Like many other parents whose child has lost their sooky, we searched high and low. We tore the house apart, searched the car a dozen times, called stores… nothing. And as I watched my daughter getting increasingly upset, going room to room crying, “Baby? Baby, where are you? Where are you Baby? I need you!”, my heart broke, and I cried.
For you see, Baby is more than just a doll. For our daughter, Baby has been all of the items I listed above – a toy, playmate and comfort. But by far, Baby’s biggest role, has been that of comforter. As most of you know, our daughter was born with two heart defects and was very sick for much of her first year. She was then later diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Now, her four and a half years have certainly been much easier than what some precious children face, and yet, they certainly haven’t been easy, either. And Baby has been there for her through all of it.
Baby has been to every doctor’s appointment, echo, EKG, and other tests – “Baby makes me brave,” says my daughter. Baby has been by her side during every single ABA therapy session – approximately 320 thus far. When therapy, or even just daily life gets overwhelming and it all blows up into a meltdown, Baby is there – her comfort to hold onto in the storm. While very high functioning in terms of her language and cognitive skills, our daughter is quite delayed socially. She struggles making friends and interacting with peers. Baby has been the friend that she struggles to make. She plays and pretends with her, talks to her, whispers secrets in her ear, and we even use Baby as a therapy tool, helping her practice social skills.
How can I tell you what losing Baby means?
With all of that in my mind, the knowledge of what Baby means to our daughter, also running through my mind were the practical issues at hand – how were we going to get her to sleep that night? What was going to happen during her first meltdown during ABA? Our daughter has more appointments upcoming, including an echocardiogram and dental surgery, how would we ever get through those without Baby?
Efforts thus far to find Baby had proved futile, so I decided to turn to the internet. I posted a picture of my daughter and Baby on the local classifieds site on Facebook. I said we had lost my daughter’s doll, and asked people to please keep their eyes open, to contact me if they found her. I was so appreciative every time someone shared the photo, said they would look. And then, came one comment which in the end has brought tears to more than just our eyes:
“My daughter has this doll, which looks similar. She said she would like to give it to your little girl, if it would help her feel better!”
With the comment was a photo of the doll – it was the exact same doll. I was completely overwhelmed, with tears in my eyes. I messaged the mother, thanking her profusely, and asked her if she was sure that her little girl was willing to part with her doll. If she was, then yes we would be so grateful. I asked what we could do for the little girl in return. The mother informed me that it was her little girl’s idea: they were learning in school about “filling other people’s buckets” (doing good deeds, and bringing happiness to others). Her little girl said that she wanted to give my daughter her doll, so that she could fill her bucket. She even put pig tails in the doll’s hair.
And so, thanks to the generosity and selflessness of a little six-year old girl, Baby was “found”. My husband went to pick her up at once, and once home, we snuck up the stairs and slipped Baby into her arms. In the morning, she came downstairs, carrying Baby. “Mommy! Daddy! I found her! I found Baby! She was in my bed!” She cuddled Baby close, saying, “Oh Baby, I missed you!” We told her of this little girl’s generosity, and she gasped, “She gave it? For me?! Oh, thank you little girl!” As I wrote this – my daughter was working on a thank you card.
I posted a simple thank you the next morning, on the Facebook group – thanking those who took the time to share the search request and who looked for Baby. I was going to delete my original post, asking people to look for Baby, since the need was gone now. And yet, I couldn’t when I read through some of the comments – for the story touched so many. At the time of writing this, there were well over 250 “likes” and several comments on the two posts. Contrary to what often happens on online posts, all the comments were kind, applauding the generosity of the little girl, congratulating her parents on a job well done, and how we could all learn from the selflessness of this little girl. But the one comment above all, that prompted me to write this, was this one:
“I am just reading this and am crying my eyes out! What a wonderful message this family has given to another: kindness! Thanks to this classifieds [group] we have had the honor of reading how much good there is in our little piece of the world.”
Perhaps as we go forward, into the Christmas season and beyond, we can keep this story in our mind. When all we hear around us are stories of the horrors of this world, when we feel discouraged at the fate of humanity, remember this little girl. Remember how one seemingly small act of generosity brought happiness to an entire family. And how sharing that story of happiness, in turn brought refreshing feelings of joy, encouragement, hope, and faith in humanity to hundreds of others. As long as we continue to recognize and share the simple goodness in this world – hope is not lost. A sincere thank you, to little Miss B.
Our daughter, with her “new” Baby