My Thoughtful Humans

There have been countless times in my life when a kind word - from friends and strangers alike - have buoyed me. I passed notes (hopefully, mostly kind ones) in middle school and brought my yearbook to school every day for two weeks in high school until everyone had signed. I saved every RSVP from my wedding and will always have a special place in my heart for the folks that did more than just check a box for a meal (always do more than check the box on those expensive little cards, y’all). I save far too many of the crumpled backpack notes that come home from third and fifth grade and when people I’d never met thanked me for my work, I cherished the time and energy they’d put into sharing and kept those cards in my desk for years. 

I did my best, in words and in actions, to reciprocate kindness. The lifesaving power of those attempts however, were not fully known to me until I gave birth to my first child. In addition to the new title of mother, I gained an immediate diagnosis for severe postpartum depression. I wasn’t sure how to pick myself up, much less my son, and I was overwhelmed by the feelings of sadness, fear and worry that overcame me. As I suffered, the doorbell rang and my house overflowed with presents and celebration for Hunter. As if the world knew my feelings were temporarily and painfully muted, he was surrounded by more love, care and celebration than any other kid in the world…or so it felt, to us both.

I began to write back. For the blankets knit by Dave’s Aunt Colleen, for the impractical and beautiful cashmere onesie purchased by a dear friend, for the coffees dropped on my porch by Jaci, for the free arms that visits from Jen would give me, for the fact that our nanny Rachel kept walking through the door every morning, for the mailman who delivered packages even in the rain, for the Starbucks barista that saw my sadness and gave me a coffee cake, for the friends that fed me and daily, for my husband, who showed up confidently while he worriedly googled “when will I get my wife back?”. I didn’t know his answer, so I wrote. I wrote back, to people and to myself. With each card, I poured over my words and chose my favorite pen and sometimes, on the good days, I used multiple colors and blew gently on the folded paper to dry the ink before closing the envelope, addressing and walking to the mailbox two blocks away. I became (and hopefully, had already been) an even more Thoughtful Human.

The act of writing those cards helped me prove to myself, over and over again, that at best, I had so much to live for and at least, it would be rude to not say thank you. In both versions, I had to keep going and I’d given myself a roadmap as to how. That first year of Hunter’s life, I kept a spreadsheet (entitled The Gratitude List) and entered each card I sent, the person to whom I sent it, the reason I was sending it and their response. I wrote 564 cards that year and my husband has been kind enough to never tell me the amount of money we spent on cards or postage. 

For the past eleven years, and inspired by the little piece of me (who will soon be taller than me) that ultimately healed me and our painful, unbreakable early bond, I’ve kept writing cards. Cards not as a transactional, milestone marking to do but cards as community. Cards as hope. Cards that bear witness to unspeakable pain, cards that celebrate unexpected joy, cards that honor the brave truths spoken and cards that make me laugh uncontrollably. I believe that taking the time to write words - to yourself and to the people around you - is a lifesaving measure, an opportunity to leave a legacy in the world and a chance to put a smile on someone’s face. Now, cards go from being my passion to becoming my platform as I proudly invest in Thoughtful Human and join as their President. 

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