No one ever knows what kind of impact their words might have on another person.
Everyone is going through their own unique struggle, every single day. Whether they’re just having a “case of the Mondays,” or are going through something terrifically painful, you just never know the effect a kind word or gesture can have on someone… until you try.
Diana Register of Boise, Idaho spent a tumultuous couple of years as a caregiver for her husband, Chad. Chad had pancreatic cancer, and Diana knew she had to be strong for him as much as she could. She hid her emotions a lot, but there were times when the pain was too intense and she needed to let it all out.
Diana would frequently pull into shopping plazas to cry her eyes out in the privacy of her car. On one such day, she was sobbing to a friend on the phone as she sat in a Dutch Brothers coffee drive-thru, and she realized she wasn’t going to be able to collect herself before it was her turn to pull up to the window.
“There was no way out. I was literally blocked in, so unless I wanted to back right up into the SUV behind me, I was about to be seen for the mess I really was. As I approached the window as a middle aged woman with my hair in a bun, and with my face wet from crying, I could barely speak. I was still listening to the person on the phone talk, and I had two choices. I could speed off or I could roll down the window.”
Diana was still so overcome by emotion that she couldn’t speak, even to place her coffee order. She recognized the teenage girl at the window.
“She took one look at me and saw how disheveled I was and said nothing. She just handed me my drink. A drink I didn’t order because I couldn’t even muster the words, but a drink she would know I wanted.”
When Diana pulled away into a nearby parking spot, she reached for her drink and saw what the girl had done. She’d given Diana a pink straw, and written the words, “We love you” around the top.
“This girl barely knew me. I don’t even think at the time she knew my story. All she knew was that at that moment, I was hurting. She couldn’t fix it. We couldn’t talk about it. She couldn’t hug me. So she used the only tool she had in that instance – a pen, and a pink straw.”
Diana was moved to fresh tears by the girl’s simple act of compassion. In one small gesture, she was able to convey a very important human sentiment: You are not alone. We are here with you. We care.
“I take that lesson with me wherever I go and I retell that story to anybody who will listen. Because I want them —no, I need them— to know how powerful their actions can be to a person in pain.”
Sadly, Diana’s husband ended up passing away from his cancer, but Diana hasn’t forgotten the powerful feeling of love and acceptance she got that day. Now, she often speaks with the coffee shop manager, and they’ve started giving out pink straws to anyone who looks like they need one that day.
One day, the manager had a surprise for Diana: purple straws. Purple is the color of pancreatic cancer awareness. The store now gets the purple straws periodically just for Diana, as a way of honoring her husband and letting her know that she’s never alone.
“Simple acts of kindness is all it takes. This small thing has literally changed my life, and I hope you remember that as you go on with yours. Whether you’re the giver or receiver, you can and you will make a difference by showing you care. How you do that is up to you, but find a way. Find a way to show somebody they’re not alone. Even if all you have is a pen and something to write on, you will never regret impacting a life. Give the gift of love. Give the gift of kindness. I’m so thankful for mine.”
Please share this story to encourage everyone to look for small ways to help each other out every single day. We’re all in this together!