Well, folks: I'd like to restore your faith in humanity today (in under 500 words).
A few weeks ago, I posted on Facebook about my son getting bullied in (and out of) school. So many offered advice and sent messages, and I was truly touched by the support—I may have even said as much, perhaps multiple times. One such message came from Sharon H., an employee of Lockheed Martin (PA) and someone I'm privileged to know from my days at Rosemont College. She asked, rather simply, if she could send my son a package. I agreed, never expecting the amazing thing she had planned.
The package arrived the other day. Not only did it include patches and pins and brochures and information about NASA and shuttle missions and all things space (gold to a kid with stars in his eyes), but it also included "The Night Sky" book (already on my son's Christmas Wish List). This, in itself, would've been more than enough—but Sharon warned me to open the book with my boy and read the flap, and so I did.
Inside that flap were stories from complete strangers—strangers living and working and breathing and loving space, making it their careers and acknowledging it as their passion—and each and every one of them was telling my son that he, too, could be doing that someday. Complete strangers took time out of their lives to write messages to an eight-year-old boy telling him to work for his dreams because they are possible. Complete strangers telling him that it counts to be smart, that brains can beat brawn, that thoughtless words and violent deeds don't have to destroy what's best about any of us. And my son, who has cried himself to sleep thinking he's never going to be good enough—my son, who has trouble making friends because he doesn't quite know how to relate—he felt hope for the first time in a very, very long while.
"Mom," he said, "there really are people like me out there."
He's not old enough to know that there will never be anyone quite like him—and how special that truly is—but I know what he meant. I know what he meant, and I can't thank those strangers enough for making my son feel a little less alone, a little more important.
So: Thank you, Sharon, and thank you to the wonderful folks at Lockheed Martin. I should've realized that people working with air-and-space would know how to make small steps into giant leaps—just by being kind.