Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Do We All Rely On The Kindness of Strangers?

Recently I spoke to a young mother whose adorable little girl is on the verge of taking her first solo steps.   Any parent with a trained eye can see that in only a matter of a few short weeks this cutie pie will reach for a nearby table, chair or large pet, pull herself up and although wobbly at first, start to walk.  Then, she’ll be off and running anywhere  her two feet, then her two wheels, then her four wheels can take her.

The mother confided in me that she was nervous about her daughter being that autonomous after ten months of blissful dependency. She didn’t want her to fall, didn’t want her to hurt herself.

I told her that I clearly remember standing behind my son when he took his first tentative steps, my arms outstretched ready to catch him if he lost his newly-found balance or tripped over something that the naked eye could not possibly see.  I was always confident that no matter where my son would be, no matter what stage in life he was, I would always be there to know when something was wrong, always be there with outstretched arms to catch him.

The ER nurse’s voice on the other end of the phone was purposefully controlled, hoping that her degree of calm would translate through the phone wires and keep me from hysteria. 

“I am so sorry, ma’am, your son was hit while jogging and is in our Intensive Care Unit. Please come to the hospital as soon as possible.”  

The world as I knew it ceased to exist. Another alternate universe took over; a universe where parents don't innately know when their children are in dangerous,or lying somewhere hurt. . .or worse.  

In the weeks and months to follow, through my son's long painful recovery I was able to slowly assemble piece by excruciating piece, the circumstances that took place that night. It dawned on me that no matter how in control we feel we are, when the shit really hits the fan:

Do we all end up relying on the kindness of strangers?

All our children’s lives we’ve told them “don’t speak to strangers” and rightly so, because unfortunately there are extremely scary people in this world.  But on the night of my son’s accident, while I was having dinner at the neighborhood Chinese restaurant, there was a veritable community of heroic strangers who came out of the night, kept my son warm and told him to hold on, constantly reassuring him that they were not going to let him die.  They stayed until another group of strangers took over; the police and the EMT who then swiftly put him into the capable arms of the emergency room trauma team. 
That night as I cracked open my fortune cookie to see what my future would bring, all those strangers were working together as a team to make sure my son had one.   The police would later tell me that they had never seen a person so close to dying, who actually lived.

From that moment on I realized our families are not just the ones we grow up with, marry or give birth to. We all are connected and ultimately responsible for one another.  In our worse moments,when our close friends and family are not around, our life may be placed in a stranger's  hands.   On the night of January 7, 2001 I finally understood the meaning of The Family of Man.

Alison is the award-winning author of The Lily Lockwood Series: Book One,The Seeds of a Daisy and soon to be published Book Two, The Silver Cord.

The Seeds of a Daisy is available paperback and digital download: Amazon,


  1. That was so nice Alison. And I love that picture of you!

    1. thanks Brandon, I appreciate it.

    2. oh and I, like thousands of others, love YOUR pictures.

  2. so beautiful. i love you! xoxo

    1. thanks Amy. I LOVE you thiiiiis much!

  3. Beautifully written, so heart touching and heart wrenching. One never knows what the future holds, and who will become involved in our lives. Thank you cuz for sharing this deep, deep part of your soul, really touched me. <3 Pammie

    1. oh that makes me feel so good. I love you, truly!

  4. Oh yes, I have found myself very reliant on the family of humankind. Strangers have often scooped me up and set me back on my feet.

    Why does it take such tragedy for us to realize how much we all need one another?

    Beautiful post, Alison.

    1. thanks Hollye! I ask myself that question all the time. <3 U!

    2. Beautiful Alison. Thank you for sharing : )

  5. He's very fortunate that people helped him and saved his life. You're also very lucky to have such a great son, from what you've told me about him so far. (And he is lucky to have you too.)
    I'm always terrified of the dangers that could befall my kids. Especially after all the horror stories I hear on the news. I want to just keep them in a cocoon.