Calling Bull____

So I’ve been taking part in a writing workshop the last handful of days. We are given prompts that force us to delve into our grief in new and unique ways.

One prompt recently was about kindness. How are you kind to yourself. Seems like a great prompt, but I couldn’t get past the opening paragraphs of the work that was chosen to get our creative juices flowing.

I may not have followed the rules to a tee, but I couldn’t get past the first words I read, and here’s what I came up with.

“Before you know what kindness really is, you must lose things.”

I’m calling bullshit.

Maybe it’s too fresh. Maybe I’m still so angry. Maybe I’m still to confused about a world that would let my baby die before he had a chance to cry even once.

The idea that I can’t…or couldn’t…know kindness until my little boy was taken from me reeks of the “everything happens for a reason” that makes me physically ill and red-faced angry at anyone who would say that to a grieving dad. No. Not everything happens for a reason. And no. I didn’t need to lose Simon to know kindness.

Had he been born, had I held him when he cried, had my heart melted the first time he looked into my eyes, my ability to see kindness (and my ability to display it) would have been instantly heightened. When my first son was born, I understood instantly what an amazing place the world was. I felt the kindness of people around my family’s community as we all came together knowing that “it takes a village to raise a child” and this was our village. That is a kindness that I had never learned, and it didn’t take a crushing loss to see it.

I am a kind person now. I am kind so that both my living son and my dead son will be proud of me. And I will always know that I would have changed when Simon came into the world had he lived, too. I would have become even more empathetic than I was before. I would have seen the good in people, in the world.

So did it take my son not having a chance at life for me to know kindness? That’s a really fucking arrogant idea. He dies, I see kindness.

Screw that. Kindness has always been there, but HE never gets a chance to experience it.

Simon’s Smile

A while after we lost our perfect little boy Simon, Tera had an idea. A perfectly simple, perfect idea. A way to honor our little boy and allow him to make an impact on the world.

We created “Simon’s Smile”.

We have business cards that tell a bit of his, and our, story and we give them out along with a random act of kindness, asking (but not expecting) that people will pay it forward.

It’s a way to feel Simon’s presence on a daily basis, and a way to make sure he is never forgotten. And hopefully it puts a smile on someone’s face.

I give out a card every time I run. I put it on a random car windshield along with a note wishing the driver a happy day, or a peaceful afternoon, or just that they have at least one reason to smile that day. I don’t know the result, I likely never will. All I can do is hope that the message of Simon’s Smile hits its mark.

Today I got a firsthand example of what a little act of kindness can do.

I was running, nearly to the top of the hill and struggling. As I approached the crest of the hill, I saw a mom wrestling with her little one to get her in the stroller. I’ve been there. The straps and buckles and a squirmy toddler are a tough combination at times.

As I passed her, her daughter was safely buckled in and I had conquered the hardest part of my run. She said “good job”…I said thanks and echoed her good job. I was a bit past her, but I could hear her laugh as she yelled “thanks” in my direction.

They were random acts of kindness. She applauded my effort running, and I acknowledged that her task at the moment was harder. We both smiled.

That moment hit me with a renewed vigor to continue or Simon’s Smile mission and to do what I can, what Simon, Tera, Nolan and I can, to add some kindness to the world.

It makes a difference. It really does.

Be kind to each other in Simon’s name.

(Oh, and if you get a card, let us know how Simon made you smile…put a picture of the act of kindness on Instagram with #SimonsSmile. His mom and dad love to see how he’s impacting the world.)