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Dear Stranger Who Bought My Child a Doughnut

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Dear stranger who bought my child a doughnut,

Even though it was several years ago, I can still remember you.

We were stuck in an airport due to bad weather. My children were restless. I was on my own with them, and after a hectic weekend full of visiting numerous relatives, we were all ready to be home.

And then it happened. Despite all his best efforts, my son began to experience a significant challenge. On the surface it would appear like a child having a temper tantrum. I can assure you it was much more than that. I sprung into survival mode – desperately trying to help him manage and cope. It’s not easy in those moments. Because other eyes are upon you and you wonder about the thoughts behind their stares. I knew what I had to do. My approach was different than other parents’ may be, but I knew this would work best. We spent a great deal of time getting to a calm state, and when we finally arrived, he asked for a doughnut from Tim Hortons.

The three of us walked over to the coffee kiosk, and I ordered the doughnuts. Sitting down on a bench, I felt exhausted but glad we had averted something much bigger. Until I heard “This isn’t the one I asked for.” And I knew the risk of escalation was now upon us once again. Looking up, I saw the line had grown to more than 20 people.

I gathered up the courage to approach you. You were near the front of the line. I asked if I could give you some money to buy the doughnut. You offered for me to go ahead of you in line – I declined and simply asked if you could purchase the doughnut and bring it over to us. And you did. And I could have cried. Because you did so without any looks of judgment.

I remember saying to you, “I can’t thank you enough. What things appear like on the surface aren’t always exactly what’s going on, and you have no idea how much you’ve helped us today.”

It would have been easy for you to look at me like I was the mother giving in to her misbehaved child. You could have refused to purchase the doughnut and told me to go to the end of the line. You could have allowed that look to come across your eyes that told me you disagreed. But you didn’t. And because you didn’t, you threw us a life preserver that assisted us to make it through the rest of our day.

Not long ago, I was in an airport again, waiting for my flight. There was a mom standing in line at the Tim Hortons, and her children were running around playing. Mom was calling quite loudly for the kids to come stand beside her, to no avail. Two ladies sitting behind me began to comment and said, “Well guess what she’s in for if she can’t even get her kids to listen to her now. Guess what will happen when they are teenagers.”

And I thought of you. It might have seemed like such a small thing to do for a family. But it wasn’t — it was such a big help.

I silently thanked you again, grateful it was you who was in the airport that day.

Follow this journey on Champions for Community Mental Wellness.

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 Please  include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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Originally published: February 9, 2015
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