A Thank You Letter to a Stranger

Thank you for smiling warmly and firmly, embracing me by my shoulders. Thank you for having kind eyes and a comforting presence as you stated, “You are special. Don’t ever forget that.” Thank you for warmly embracing me, rendering me to tears. Thank you for providing a glimmer of hope in a tumultuous time period infested by despair and darkness. 

I do not know your name or where you are from, but I do know that you served as a beacon of light, illuminating a pathway towards discovering a new reason to hold on. 

It was a brisk October afternoon, and I was participating as a volunteer at the annual Light the Night Walk in Wilmington, Delaware. While this service event is one of my absolute favorites to attend, it did not suffice enough to bring me out of my rut. I could not help but ponder and fixate on the suffocating darkness crushing me. While I could see and engage with my surroundings, I was metaphorically in a heavy fog, trudging with no clear direction or intention. I was merely an actress striving to create a facade by appearing as content, thereby masking my deep sorrows and sadness.

It had been quite some time I wandered aimlessly, looking for a sign but failing to find one. Until that night when the walk portion commenced. 

Situated in the back of the walking crowd, I was amidst families and friends but felt as if I was on a delicate balance between solitude and loneliness. Conflicting thoughts ransacked my mind, leaving me ashamed with guilt.

How could I advocate for the eradication of childhood cancer so no child dies, while I did not value life for myself? How could I believe adamantly that everyone deserves an equal chance at living a healthy, successful life, while the same cannot be said for myself? How could I? 

Burdened by perceiving myself as a counterfeit performing a fraud, I felt as if I did not belong at the event; an event celebrating life, a concept that I myself struggle with. Life is precious and should be protected and treasured at all cost, but believing this does not come easy. Constant reminders and reassurance of this notion are frequently practiced. 

 

In a perplexing mood, I reflected in silence and distanced myself from others, until I noticed a baby in a wagon staring at me. With her bright blue eyes, wide smile and rosy cheeks, I could not help but wave and chuckle. We quickly developed an unspoken communication, for I would make silly faces and she would giggle endlessly. Strolling along the wagon and continuing our lighthearted antics, her family and I engaged in a conversation that persisted throughout the duration of the walk. In that moment, I did not feel alone. While it was briefly lived, I felt as if I did have a positive ripple effect, and everything would be okay. 

Alas, the walk had come to an end, and I was solemnly reintroduced back into reality bombarded by chaos. Standing afar from the crowd of people as I waited for my friends to return, one of the family members approached me. To my suprise, that is when she enveloped me with her radiating, warm presence and expressed her gentle words. Inexplicable but memorable, we said our farewells and I wandered off to the concert area for I was overwhelmed. 

Overwhelmed with mixed feelings of happiness tinged with sadness, confusion, gratitude, astonishment and so much more. Tears welled up as time slowed down. Watching the kids dance goofily to the band, I felt as if I was Holden in The Catcher in the Rye when he encounters feelings of disappearing every time he steps off a curb. The analogy may not make sense, but to me, it does. Because of the lady’s small act of kindness, something awakened in me, creating a sense of surrealization. 

How could a simple sentence be so powerful and uplifting? How could a stranger be so sincere and emphatic without knowing my life story and struggles? Recollecting myself, I searched for her to express my gratitude but to no avail. Despite not seeing her again, she left a lasting impression on my heart. When times get dark, I rewind back to that moment where things, maybe, just maybe, would be okay. And I know things will be okay, for if a stranger believed in me, then so can I in myself. 

Thank you.