This essay was published in the November issue of Holstee's Mindful Matter.
There was a crispness in the air as I plunked down on my neighbor's driveway. It was twilight of a beautiful early fall evening. The first day of the new season that we had put on our sweaters to go outside. My son and my neighbor's son, both recently minted kindergarteners, were running and laughing and pulled out a big bottle of bubbles. My job sitting there was to keep the bubbles from toppling over and to watch for cars as they ran screaming into the cul-de-sac for their bubble popping game.
I sat on the hard, chilly cement, letting the boys' laughter wash over me. I told myself to breathe, to listen to the sound of their voices. To be in the moment. I was glad to be out of the four walls of my house for a bit. It had been a long day, a day in which I was mostly stuck in my head contemplating and lamenting my changing relationship with my aging parent. We had several big, looming decisions to make that would significantly impact her life (and mine). I needed some air.
My neighbor, mom to my son's playmate, a lovely Cambodian woman with gorgeous, long, jet black hair and the warmest eyes you've seen was suddenly at my side. She was crouched down holding a steaming turquoise, ceramic mug. She held it out to me and I grasped the mug in both hands and let the heat warm them for a moment. I put the mug to my nose and soaked in the sweetness of the honey and tangerine. Then, I took a sip. The warmth, the sugary syrup, the pulp of actual tangerine, it filled me like a warm hug. As if my friend had given me a special elixir for my worry. What was this stuff? For the next ten minutes I relished every sip of that tea. I could smile with ease at the boys' game and the cloud of uncertainties fogging up my mind was lifted. It was such a gift, this cup of tea from my dear neighbor.
Life doesn't slow down when big things happen to us. It seems as we get older, those big hard things just keep happening faster and more frequently. The daily small acts of kindness we give to each other are our fuel to keep us going. It was just a cup of tea, but it was really so much more.