There are things in life that are too heavy for words. We don’t know what to say, so we say nothing at all.

I know I’ve been guilty of turning away from someone in their time of need because I couldn’t imagine anything I could say or do to lift their burden. Have you ever felt that way?

Maybe the point isn’t to fix things for people. Maybe the point is to be present, to stand next to a fellow human as they cry and then shed a few tears with them.

Carol Rosenau from Carrington, N.D., is walking a path no one can possibly imagine unless they’ve been there. She has cancer and it’s not going away. But Carol continues to enjoy every day and every moment she has on Earth.

Recently, she was delighted by a very unexpected act of kindness from a woman who took the time to step into another person’s pain.

“This past Labor Day weekend, our family attended the musical at Medora, N.D., which again was exceptional. The following day before leaving for home, I shopped a bit in several of the town’s neat gift shops. One store had a beautiful display of rings.

“Since being on chemotherapy for a metastasized cancer, I have lost a considerable amount of weight. Most of my rings are way too large, including my wedding ring. I tried on several costume jewelry rings while tearfully telling the kind clerk about my cancer and the reason for the weight loss. She asked my name and asked permission to put me on a prayer chain. How could I refuse that? I need all the prayers I can get!

“After thinking this purchase over, my conservative mind decided this was totally unnecessary, so again, tearfully, I told her, ‘I think I’ll pass. The prognosis isn’t good, so I won’t be wearing it very long.’ With tears in her eyes, the clerk said she was so sorry.

“I left the shop shortly thereafter and went to our car where my husband was waiting. As we were talking, the woman from the shop came to my open window with a small gift box. She said, ‘We decided to give this to you and we wish you God’s strength.’

“In the box was a gold chain necklace attached to the word ‘Faith.’ I wear it daily and think of her. Emotional as I was, I didn’t even ask her name and I don’t know the business name to even send a thank-you note, but I sure am grateful for her kindness.”

While I’m certain the necklace is beautiful and deeply appreciated, I bet the kindness of a stranger who took the time to listen and truly lean in to another person’s pain was the greatest gift of all.

We can’t heal another person, but we can remind them through our kindness that they are never alone.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.