Losing a spouse or partner is bound to leave you destroyed. No matter how many good memories you have, that gap in your life, where another soul used to be, is going to be felt.
Dennis Kust was one of those people feeling that empty space, that depression. The previous week had been his late wife’s birthday and coming up shortly was the anniversary of her passing.
His wife always told him he had to stay strong. No matter how bad things got, even when she was sick, she always told him “You have to be strong, you have to be strong.”
It is impossible to know if these words were on his mind when he headed down to Albert’s Pizza in Ronkonkoma in Islip, a Long Island town. And I don’t know if he reflected on these words as he was told someone had already purchased a pizza for him.
But I bet those words came flooding back to him as he opened the lid and saw the words: Stay Strong.
These words, which echoed so closely the words of his wife, may not have been physically written by his late wife, but he knew that she had sent this message to him through another’s hands.
Just as he was hurting, he was living in a town that was hurting and feeling divided itself. Albert’s Pizza had struck on a great way to heal their community: a customer could pre-order a pizza for someone and a note could be written on the inside of the lid.
The rules were simple. The note had to be positive and it had to be non-political.
There were plenty of generous people in town who wanted to make a difference in someone else’s life. Pizzas were bought and boxes were designed for newlyweds, single moms, families of soldiers, and more.
And for at least one man, it has worked beautifully. “I wasn’t crying because I was sad anymore, I was crying because I felt like I got a message from [Cheryl],” Kust reported.
Kust was so moved he composed a handwritten note to the owner of Albert’s Pizza. In it he told him they changed his life.
But it didn’t merely move him, or encourage him during a dark time. Kust said that it had saved him during a time that was bleak and joyless.
“I want to thank those who bought it for me and let them know that they saved my life,” he said in a video interview, sending his thank-you out into the world in hopes that it would find the kind-hearted, anonymous donor who had turned his life around.
“When you do something nice, it works. You see somebody benefit,” Rich Baer, co-owner of Albert’s, said, after hearing Kust’s story.
Perhaps there’s an establishment near you that offers an option like this. I don’t think there’s anything like that near me, but I can leave notes or make art or something to spread some hope.
I want to encourage all my readers here to pay it forward. Spread some hope in a way that inspires. You might just save a life.
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