By Nila K. Bartley
VA Medical Center--Chillicothe, OH
I was beyond despair. I did not want to live.
No hope. No joy. No laughter.
Devoid of anything except fear of living.
I tried to kill myself.
After that I felt nothing. I was numb.
Being numb was a brief respite
from being terrified all the time.
Someone smiled at me in the psych ward
of the hospital and I did not know how to respond.
I was dead inside. What brought me back to life?
Kindness! Kindness of people I barely knew.
It pierced through what had seemed
like an impenetrable haze.
The haze had surrounded me till it engulfed me.
I felt like I had been swallowed whole.
A saving but vigorous wind of compassion
blew the rest of the haze away.
I could see again.
People. Goodness. Goodness in people.
I had thought none was left.
Traveling so long in what had seemed
like an impenetrable haze
dulled my senses to the point
that I could not see beyond my own misery.
The combination of kindness and compassion
restored my faith in people.
It was that combination that totally obliterated the haze.
With it gone, I have returned the kindness and compassion
I had been given and passed it on to others.
Please do not ever doubt the difference
a simple act of kindness can make.