themighty logo

How a Stranger’s Gift of a Quarter at the Hospital Changed My Life


A lot of people have lost a child, but when you’re going through the loss yourself, it seems like you’re the only one in the entire world.

People don’t talk about it very much, and I get why they don’t.

This is my life.

The good news is I’ve been in contact with a lot of great women who have been supporting me through this lifelong journey. Unfortunately, they can support me because they, too, have lost a child.

Today I want to share with you the story about a woman who gave me a quarter.

But not just any quarter.

The day after my son, Alexander, passed away, we made our daily trip to the hospital to visit our other children, Max and Artemis.

Even after losing a child, life just continues on. So unfair.

While my husband, Ed, was parking the car, I took my travel mug inside to get hot water for my tea. It’s something that I do every morning.

Usually, I go up to the cashier, tell her that I just got hot water and go on my merry way.

But not today.

Today there was a new girl.

She told me my hot water would cost me 25 cents.

I didn’t have a problem with the fact that she wanted to charge me. I mean, they did have to pay for electricity to heat the water. The problem was that Ed had my wallet.

I didn’t even have 25 cents to my name.

In a daze, I told her I would have to dump out my water.

I felt beat down.

It wasn’t just a quarter.

It was a sign of the state of my life.

I couldn’t catch a break, nothing was going right.

Nothing.

Then, the faceless woman behind me reached into her purse and put a quarter in the cashier’s hand.

“I’ll pay for it,” she said.

I was moved to tears.

There was no way for this woman to know the effect her generous gift had made on my life.

Forever.

I’m not sure if she knew that her quarter was “not just a quarter” to me.

The moral of the story: Be kind. You never know if the person you gave a quarter to is mourning the loss of a child.

A version of this post originally appeared on Journeys of The Zoo.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one unexpected source of comfort when it comes to your (or a loved one’s) disability and/or disease? 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. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.

Want to celebrate the human spirit? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.