When I was 21, single, and toting around a baby slightly older than a newborn I encountered a situation that still makes me tear up.
Before heading home from visiting a friend (the only friend I hadn't lost during my pregnancy, here's a tip, when you're young the easiest way to test a friendship is to see who sticks around after you have to grow up), I hit up the grocery store to get Conor some formula. At the time I was living in a...let's say, low end town, where waitressing definitely didn't afford much, like $20 cans of formula. Fortunately WIC was there for me during that time, a life saver and a true blessing.
Having just gotten my WIC checks, it was time to restock for the week. I stood in line with my whimpering baby (there was very little at that time that didn't make him cry...shopping...riding in the car...being awake...etc), and then when the cashier went to process my check it was denied. I hadn't looked at the dates and unfortunately they weren't valid until the next day.
I quickly and awkwardly searched through my purse for the money for at least one can. I came up with nothing and silently scolded myself for spending money on a latte with my friend earlier.
"Excuse me," I looked up to see the woman behind me in line smiling softly at me. "Would it be okay with you if I bought this for your baby? You see, all my babies are grown up now and I don't have any to buy for now. I would really like to."
I had no words, fighting back tears I nodded. As the cashier rang it up, tears welling up in her own eyes, and the kindest stranger payed for that can of formula, I whispered gratefully, "thank you so much. I don't know what to say..."
"Oh don't worry about it," at that moment my little bundle of crankiness gave a goofy, subtle smile to the stranger. Her face lit up, "that's all the thanks I need."
I cried on the way home that night. During a time where every single day of my life was a struggle, this woman was a light. Her single act of selfless kindness helped me to realize that the world wasn't full of bad people, not everyone would use you up, leave you, overlook you, etc. There are good people every where, good people who care about complete strangers. Good people who do good things just because.
It was a tiny unselfish act, but it came during a time of my life where I needed it more than anything. That woman will never know the impact she made it my life, but it's okay because someday I hope to do her the honor of passing on the lesson she taught me.