Flowers on Your Doorstep

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From Mary Ellen Edmund's Book "Love is a Verb"

We have many opportunities and assignments to offer our love in person, but some of the most interesting reactions occur when we share it anonymously. One night I returned home exhausted from a long shift at the hospital. My shift as evening nursing supervisor was to have ended around 11:30 P.M., but so much had happened and was still happening that I didn't get home until well after midnight. My white Clinic shoes weighed a hundred pounds each as I started up the stairs. And then I saw them: the flowers. A beautiful collection of colors wrapped in cellophane, waiting for me at the top of the stairs by my door.

It's hard to describe the happy feeling that came into my heart as I looked at the flowers and wondered why someone had given them to me. There was a little card with my name on the envelope. As I reached for it I was already thinking, "Oh, what can I do for them?" (As if we need to get even when someone does something kind for us.)

I got the flowers into my apartment and sat down to look at the card, wondering, "Who is it? Who did this kind thing for me?" The card said something like this: "Thank you, Mary Ellen, for being such a good friend. I appreciate your kindness and help. I love you." And it wasn't signed! Anonymous! Now what? How can you thank people if they don't tell you who they are?

Some interesting things happened to me. First, I went to bed thinking that someone loved me. Someone cared about me. Can we ever get too much of that? Second, I was going a little crazy. Who had done this? How could I say thanks and get it over with? Now I'd have to be nice to everyone—at least until the flowers died.

Finally, I began trying to decide who had done such a nice thing. Who would have given me such a wonderful surprise? Interestingly, virtually everyone I knew and some I didn't know got onto my list of possibilities. Everyone in my family was on that list, and everyone at the hospital. When I arrived at work the next day and was making my rounds, I realized I was being very friendly, smiling a lot, greeting everyone with an extra effort to be genuinely interested. I'm sure some thought, "What's with Edmunds?"

As a result of that anonymous gift of love, I looked at everyone differently. Each person I saw might have been the one who had done such a nice thing for me. It was as if I took a new look at everyone I knew and found in them a kindness that I hadn't thought about or acknowledged nearly often enough.