For Diana Register, a woman from Boise, Idaho, the years she spent taking care of her husband before he passed away were the hardest of her life. Chad Register had pancreatic cancer, and being his caretaker, Diana did everything she could to put on a brave face and be there for him. But many times when she was alone, she couldn’t help but cry, unleashing a flood of built-up emotions.
On one of these occasions, Diane happened to be on the phone with a friend while waiting in line at a Dutch Brothers coffee drive-thru. She struggled to collect herself before it was her turn to order, but found it a monumentally difficult task.
“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,” she recalled. “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.” There at the window was a familiar face — a teenage girl she’d ordered from before.
“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 Diane drove away and pulled into a nearby parking lot, she was so overcome by the simple gesture she saw that she was brought to tears once again. The girl had given her a pink straw and wrote “we love you” on the lid of her drink.
“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.”
That little act of kindness has stuck with Diane ever since. It’s also inspired the coffee shop to hand out pink straws to anyone who looks like they’re having a bad day. They’ve even taken to giving Diane purple straws whenever she orders a drink. This color represents pancreatic cancer awareness — honoring her late husband.
“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,” Diane said.
“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.”
I can’t wait for my next opportunity to “give the gift of love.” Can you?