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To the 2 Strangers Who Asked the Right Questions About My Daughter's Cancer

“How is she recovering from surgery?”

As if it was totally normal to ask. As if the bald head and jagged bright pink scar was just another fact of life, like freckles or a mole.

You stood there in the hot sun with your children and the ice-cold lemonade. Sour lemon tamed with sweet crystals, summer in a cup.

I mentioned rehab and how well the scar was doing, and it was the most natural thing in the world. Like a child with a skinned knee.

No treatments, no cancer diagnosis, no talk of chemo. Just… how she’s doing now.

I didn’t ask how you knew. I don’t know if you had a child who struggled with their own trials. Or maybe a friend’s son or daughter. One who wasn’t “like the rest.” One who was different.

Perhaps not. Perhaps you just somehow knew, without asking. But I loved that you asked. More, I loved that you didn’t ask.


“Are bubbles OK?”

Of course bubbles were OK. They weren’t going to hurt her. But you stood there, leaning against the rails. Your family surrounded you with a seemingly happy, healthy little boy delighting in the simple joy of bubbles.

You regarded us with a simple gaze, offering no commentary on what you saw. You noticed her differences, the bald head and hospital-issued wheelchair, the angry scar slashing her scalp. But all this you took in with frank simplicity, without question.

Just another fact of life.

No gawking, no endless stream of questions, no wanting to know what was going on with her. And at the same time, you expressed a simple consideration for her health. As if it was a simple fact of life, you wanted to make sure it was OK. Worried that a small activity, one that reflects the epitome of childhood and carefree happiness, could possibly present harm for a little girl.

She was different, but you saw her heart, the childishness that beats in the heart of every young person. The simple joy in watching free-falling iridescent spheres as they float between heaven and earth. Despite your concern of any risk it might pose, you wanted to include her.

Both of you, strangers on the street. I’d never met you, and I haven’t seen you since. A single passing moment, a fleeting brush of lives, two out of the millions on this earth.

It’s amazing the impact two strangers can have without even knowing it. Your careful consideration, your simple acceptance of reality, your perceptiveness astounds me. I hope you never lose that.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment a stranger — or someone you don’t know very well — showed you or a loved one incredible love. No gesture is too small! If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please  include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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