October, for me, will always be radiation month. My son Daniel was diagnosed with cancer in May, and by the fall, he was scheduled for radiation treatments every morning. For two weeks, after putting my six-year-old daughter on the school bus, my sons and I would make the trek to UNC Hospital. After unbuckling both four-year-old Daniel and eleven-month-old Benjamin from their car seats, I would put Benjamin in a stroller. The three of us would enter the clinic.

As we sat in the lobby, waiting for Daniel’s turn for the tumor on his neck to be radiated, coffee in a Styrofoam cup, would be handed to me. I’d thank the hospital worker, an elderly man, and sip the hot beverage.

Soon Daniel would be called and taken into the small room for his treatment. Ben, usually content with a toy, and I would wait in the lobby where I’d pray for all to go well. I also spent time thinking about buying winter clothes for Daniel; he’d outgrown all of his pants. I sometimes gave a little thought to my pregnancy; I was due in May.

While my thoughts during those chilly mornings changed, the coffee never did. Faithfully, each morning, the worker presented me with a cup. His name was Lawrence, although his name tag said Larry.

Daniel did get winter clothes, and a baby sister. But he never saw his sister as he died three months before her birth.

Now on October mornings, I think of that time at the clinic. Thirteen years later, I still remember the cups of coffee. I look back on that woman of thirty-five, pregnant, with a first grader, a toddler, and a cancer patient. I wonder how she coped. I do know that the kindness of a man who was once a stranger, continues to warm her spirit. He must have seen her coming that first day, fumbling with the front door, hair still damp from her hurried shower, and knew he had to help her in any way he could.

You never know how meaningful your acts of concern—even the simple ones—can be to someone. At the time you perform them, and, many years later.

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Alice Wisler

After the death of her son, Daniel, in 1997, Alice J. Wisler claims writing saved her. Her newest book, Life at Daniel's Place: How The Cemetery Became a Sanctuary of Discovery and Gratitude, focuses on the value of writing, remembrance, and faith. Alice gives Writing the Heartache workshops across the country. Through her organization, Daniel's House Publications, she designs and sells comfort cards/remembrance cards, and at her Carved By Heart imprint, carves personalized remembrance plaques. When she isn't writing or speaking, she is promoting her novels---Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl, A Wedding Invitation, Still Life in Shadows, and Under the Silk Hibiscus. Her devotional, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, offers comfort and purpose for those dealing with grief and loss. Her cookbooks of memory---Down the Cereal Aisle, Memories Around the Table, and Slices of Sunlight, contain stories of food and memories of children who have died. Alice lives in Durham, NC, with her husband, Carl, and sweet boxer. ~~^~^~~ To learn more about Alice, visit her website: https://alicewisler.com/ and Patchwork Quilt Blog: https://alicewisler.blogspot.com/

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