Taking Back the Calendar
Author: Veronica Mora
I have a love/hate relationship with the month of October for two major reasons. Topher, my wild man and only son of Art and I, was born October 11, 2005. Art, who was perfection in my eyes, was killed in Iraq defending our country in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on 10/19/2005. The two dates are just 8 days apart. To go from the highest of the highs with the birth of a child to the lowest of lows with the death of your best friend/husband is devastating to say the least. This year will mark Topher's 8th birthday and the 8th anniversary of Art's death.
I am tired of being scared of the calendar and dreading this month. Whenever I open a calendar and flip to October, I get a pit in my stomach and a lump in my throat. My eyes focus on the 19th whether I want them to or not. That was the day our families' lives changed forever. We have since then had to pick up the jagged pieces to our once picturesque life. At almost 8 years out, the date on the calendar is a blatant reminder of our lost hero. It's time to take action and make a difference. For the next month, I am going to partake in acts of kindness in honor of Art. I've decided to name my personal project The Art of Kindness. For those who want to be involved, I encourage it. The more, the merrier!
The Art of Kindness guidelines: Once a day, from the beginning of October until the end of October, a kind act must be done. If you miss a day, don't fret, double up or do a bigger kind act for next day. All of the acts, most importantly, should come from the heart. Kind acts have many different forms - it's holding the door open a bit longer for an elderly stranger who is on his way into the market, helping load groceries for a mom with her hands full with kids, or buying a coffee for the person behind you in line. Donating is an act of kindness also - whether it's blood at a school or church blood drive, money to a local charity or homeless shelter, toiletries to the local VA clinic, non-perishables to a local food bank, or simply your time in volunteering. The possibilities are endless. Get the kids involved as well. They can make cards for the elderly in nursing homes, befriend a new kid in school, walk up and thank a veteran, or donate their unwanted clothes and toys to a donation center. We will be making this a family project to honor the legacy of our hero.
Art of Kindness cards will be given to each recipient. The cards are modest, asking nothing but the act of paying it forward and reciprocating for someone else. I will talk about Art and share his story as many times as I can this month, with as many people who will sit and listen. I will talk about our brief but full of love marriage, our 3 beautiful children, his dream to be in the Army, and the bravery of fighting and sacrificing his life for this country. Complete strangers will now know my husband's name. They may go home to their laptops or Ipads and look him up on the internet. His story will be read and his memory will live on. Who knows, someone may go home and share with their own families what transpired during their day and inspire them to do kind acts for others.
I am not saying that I won't miss him terribly on the 19th, or that his children and our families will go about that day as if nothing happened…what I'm saying is that he deserves to be celebrated more than mourned. His life has a meaning. He died for a cause. Our freedoms and liberties are stronger because he, along with countless others, gave their lives for this country. Good should come from this tragedy. We are now going to focus on positivity during the month of October. In essence, we are taking back the calendar and not letting a month or date dictate how our life is going to be played out.
My family is the one benefitting most from this month, not the recipients of the kind acts. Instead of letting this month consume us with flashbacks of grief and devastatingly sadness, we will be out in the world making a difference one act at a time. Out of a horrible situation, we will make a positive change. Art may have lost his life in Iraq in October 2005, but that does not mean the month of October should be ruined for the rest of our lives. He lived and was a good man. We should honor him in the hardest month our family has to endure. Treating others with kindness when you are filled with despair can be therapeutic - a form of therapy that works wonders on the soul as well as the mind and body. My personal mantra has always been, "If you can, then you should." Well, I can turn this month around for the good and for the sake of our children and I should because he would want us to celebrate his life and be joyous that he lived. We will not focus on his death month/date but rather the life he lived up until that point.