A woman’s act of compassion towards a small hungry boy would one day change her life in the most unexpected way.
We are all taught to be compassionate, charitable, and kind, but the truth is that we seldom are. How many times do we look away from those in need because it’s too depressing or unpleasant to think about?
This is a story about a woman who didn’t turn away from someone in need — and she never imagined that that one small kindness would transform both their lives.
Heather Graham considered herself a lucky woman. She had a loving husband, adoring children, a nice life, and good health. She was also aware that not everyone was as fortunate as she was.
Heather was a very active fundraiser for several charities, but in truth, she rarely came face to face with the needy, until one came knocking on her door one fine afternoon in late September.
Heather’s doorbell rang, then she heard a soft knock. She opened the door and at first, she thought it was a prank, then she looked down and saw a boy, maybe nine or ten standing on her welcome mat.
“Good afternoon,” Heather said smiling.
The boy looked up at Heather and she noticed that he was very pale, very dirty, and was wearing worn-out clothes that were none too clean. “Miss…” the boy whispered. “Please miss…”
Then he swayed, and before Heather could catch him he crumpled to the ground, unconscious. Heather cried out to her husband for help, and he came and helped her take the boy inside.
Heather and her husband laid the boy on her sofa and took his hand. “Gregory,” she said to her husband, “I don’t know who this poor child is, but he’s so pale, and so thin…”
“Hun,” Gregory said, worried, “I think we should call the police and an ambulance.”
“Wait,” Heather said. “Please, let’s just see what he says when he wakes up.”
A little while later the boy did wake up, and he was very frightened to find himself inside Heather’s house.
“It’s OK,” Heather said gently. “You fainted, and I brought you inside. Are you sick, sweetie?”
The little boy’s eyes filled with tears. “I’m hungry, miss,” he whispered, ashamed. “I haven’t eaten in three days, and no one will give me any food. I asked every house on this block and they said I was a beggar…”
The boy’s lips were trembling and he was holding on to his dignity by a thread, Heather could see. “Well, aren’t you lucky!” she said smiling. “I was just about to make myself a mega roast chicken sandwich with all the trimmings. How about you join me?”
The boy’s eyes lit up, and Heather put her arm around him and led him to the kitchen where she prepared two chicken sandwiches and poured the boy a big glass of milk.
“What’s your name, honey?” she asked the boy, who was looking at the sandwiches with hungry eyes.
“I’m Sebastian, but my friends call me Bastian,” he replied.
“Well, Bastian,” said Heather, “I want you to eat slowly so you don’t get sick, OK?” Bastian nodded eagerly and reached for his sandwich. While he ate, Heather asked him how he happened to be at her door that afternoon.
Bastian took a big bite and talked with his mouth full as he chewed. “My mom’s in the hospital, and there’s no one here to take care of me. I ran out of food…But I couldn’t ask anyone like the police or my teachers for help, or they would call Child Services and they would take me away.”
“But Bastian,” Heather gasped, “you have to ask for help! You don’t know how long your mother is going to be in the hospital!”
Kindness is like a boomerang: you fling it out into the world, and it always comes back to you.
“No!” Bastian cried. “My gran’s coming, but she will only be here tomorrow. It’s just that I was so hungry, I thought I was going to die…”
“Listen, Bastian, you will stay here with me until your gran comes tomorrow,” Heather said. “Just give me her cell number and I will call her.”
So that night, Bastian slept clean, safe, and well-fed, and the next day his gran picked him up from Heather’s house.
Heather never heard from Bastian again, but she sometimes wondered what might have happened to him. The years passed, and Heather was going through some dark days.
She still had a loving husband and adoring children, but her health was far from good, in fact, doctors told her that if she didn’t have a kidney transplant soon, she would not survive.
Unfortunately, Heather had a rare blood type, which made her probability of getting the right kidney in time very slim. Her husband and her children were not compatible, and so Heather made her peace with whatever time she had left.
Her daughter didn’t give up, however. She launched an appeal on social media, sharing her mother’s story and her photo, reaching out to distant relatives, hoping that someone who might be compatible would come forward to be tested as a possible donor.
The young woman’s perseverance was rewarded, and a man came forward, and even though he wasn’t a relative, he revealed he had the same blood type as Heather and he wanted to donate one of his kidneys.
Just days later, Heather and her donor were in the hospital, getting ready for the procedure. Heather asked to speak to the young man, and a nurse wheeled her over.
“I just wanted to thank you…” Heather said to the handsome young man lying on the hospital gurney. “And to tell you that I will never be able to repay you for what you’re giving me!”
The young man smiled. “Repay me? But Mrs. Graham, I’m repaying YOU! Ten years ago I was starving, and you saved my life. You may not have realized it but that kindness and that sandwich meant the world to me!”
“Bastian!” cried Heather, and stretched out her hand to hold his, with tears running down her cheeks, “Oh my dear, thank you!”
Just then, the surgeons had them both wheeled into the O.R. for their surgeries, but when they woke up after the successful procedures, they asked to be placed in the same room, side by side, like the loving friends they were.
What can we learn from this story?
Sometimes it takes very little to save a life. Bastian was starving to death, and Heather gave him food, caring, and safety when he most needed it.