Kindness of Strangers
Sometimes a simple hug makes all the difference Andrea Gaisa lives in Western Australia, is an artist and writer, and loves yoga and the great outdoors. Her biggest adventure has been learning about the mysteries of human existence through others and her
ON A MONDAY MORNING, back in 2015, I remember parking my car under a shady tree in the carpark outside my doctor’s clinic in Broadwater, Western Australia. I was nervous and carefully rehearsing what I wanted to tell my doctor. Heartbreak, grief and the loss of the idea of a complete family left me not coping well. I knew that I was depressed – it was something I’d experienced in the past when life had thrown big challenges my way. I had tried to pick myself up; tried to throw myself into my work as an educator in before-and-after school care, and also tried to focus on my art. Despite these efforts, my depression hadn’t gone away. It kept growing like a cancer in my inner world. I wanted a life. I wanted to be healthy as my son, Kai, was depending on me. I took a few deep breaths and went to my appointment.
When I returned to my car, an hour and a half later, I got in as quickly as I could, shut the door and started weeping uncontrollably. My doctor had diagnosed me with severe anxiety and depression. He said I needed to take several weeks off work and prescribed
antidepressants. My life had been turned upside down: as much as it was a relief not to have to keep it together any longer, I was grieving the loss of my life as I knew it. I had to make some drastic changes in order to get better.
Still sobbing, I was startled to hear a knock on my car door. A petite lady with short fair hair, probably in her 40s, gently opened it and began to speak calmingly and kindly to me. “I don’t know what you’re going through right now. But know this, I will pray for you, you are looked after and what you are going through will pass,” she said. “Can I give you a hug?”
There I was, a weeping mess, gratefully accepting this kind stranger’s reassuring hug. All I managed to reply in a choked-up voice was “thank you”.
This was the most significant act of kindness that I’ve ever experienced from a stranger. It gave me hope in the world, in people and for me. My recovery started right there.
About a year later, when I was doing a lot better, I bumped into the same kind stranger at the opening of an art exhibition. She recognised me and smiled. She said that she could tell I was doing well. We hugged again, and once more I was able to express my appreciation for her gesture – this time a little more articulately. Share your story about a small act of kindness that made a huge impact. Turn to page 5 for details on how to contribute and earn cash.