You never know how one act of kindness can truly affect someone. To be honest, until the woman who held my baby on a plane, during the worst days of my life, I don’t think I truly understood the depth of a small act of kindness  towards a stranger.

I recently lost one of my brothers to a tragic and extremely sudden medical emergency. This happened right around New Years Day. My family and I were visiting in Virginia when we got the call from my mom that my brother was on life support and we needed to get there, to Washington state, as soon as possible.

During the worst days of my life, I realized how a small act of kindness can affect someone. To the woman who held my baby on the plane...Because it was such short notice, the airline could not get my family of six on a flight all together, so it was just my daughter (one of the twins) and I flying on our own. The next day, my husband would fly up with the other three.

We had to switch plans three times during that flight home, and they were the longest flights of my life. The only thing that I could think of was making sure that I got home in time to say goodbye to my brother and to be with my family.

For my sweet girl, it was late. It was an extremely long day and night for her, and she was exhausted. The entire first flight, she screamed. Literally, the entire flight, 1.5 hours, she cried and fussed and just was not happy with anything. The man in front of me had switched us seats so that she could have her own spot to sprawl out.

Nope. She didn’t care about that.

To The Women Who Held My Baby

When we finally got off of that flight, which was late, we had to run to our next flight in order to make it. We barely got there before they closed the doors. I sat down in the window seat with a fussy baby, completely defeated and aching to just be home with my family. I was thankful that the people who sat down next to us were a kind looking woman and her father.

She made small talk with me, and commented on how cute my daughter was, but I could barely make a smile. She asked what I was going to Washington for…. all I could mutter was, “an emergency”.

My little one  started fussing again about 30 minutes into that flight. No bottle or toy or snack was going to get her to stop. She was so exhausted, but refusing to sleep. I tried to keep it together, but I was battling the tears.

The woman next to me kindly asked if she could take her for a minute. This isn’t something I would normally do, just out of being a worrier by nature. However, she had spoken to me earlier about her own daughter, much older now, and at that point I would have done anything to calm her down.

She held her and rocked her for a long time, even when my little one was screaming and fighting her. She finally fell asleep and the woman asked if she could just hold her while she slept. My heart just felt a hint of immediate relief when she did. I was so thankful for this moment.

This woman had no idea what I was going through. She had no clue that my heart was breaking and that I was going through losing someone who was so important in my life. She didn’t pry, she didn’t complain that my child was screaming, she only offered to help.

I turned away and stared out into the black night outside of the plane, and just let the tears flow. It was in that moment that I was so thankful for the kindness of strangers. Without her, I would have lost it completely I think.

As a mom, we all know that motherhood can be hard. When we are grieving or going through hard times, it is even more difficult to keep it together for our children.

So to the woman who held my baby on the plane, on the worst day of my life, thank you. You will never how much that meant to me, what strength that gave me to push through without breaking down that night, and how that plane ride will forever hold a place in my heart. I can never repay you for your kindness. While it may not bring relief to the heartache of losing my brother, it helped a broken mom feel a little bit less alone that night.

joanna at motherhood and merlot