Sometimes it can feel like we’re all caught up in an endless cycle of bad news. Like we’re living in a world where no one cares about their neighbors anymore — and that the world is going downhill, fast. That’s why I pretty much burst into happy tears when I came across an amazing story of kindness on Facebook, shared by a Southwest writer and artist named Therra Jaramillo.
In her viral post, Jaramillo first describes her state of mind just a few days ago, when her finances took a turn for the worse. Her water heater suddenly needed to be replaced (to the tune of $2,000), and she was waiting on some delayed payments for work she’d completed. In all, she says she was about $4,000 in the hole.
But as Jaramillo now tells Babble, this wasn’t the only hardship to come her way recently. A few years ago, she lost her beloved husband John Jaramillo, a Native American performing artist and teacher, to brain cancer. Due to mounting medical bills and a career change made so she could work from home to care for him, Jaramillo says that she’d already been in a difficult spot both financially and emotionally for quite some time.
In his absence, all the responsibilities of life had fallen squarely on her shoulders; and this latest incident was taking its toll.
“I was making rice for me and the dogs to eat,” she wrote. “I was losing sleep. I was crying daily. I rationed gas in my car.”
Jaramillo says that her friends had come to her aid in times of need before, and thankfully, this particular day was no exception. In fact, she wrote that on that particular morning, her dear friend (who she refers to as “Miracle Mary”) had sent her a gift card to Whole Foods.
“It unexpectedly popped up in my text box,” she wrote in her post. “I was so grateful I sat down and wept.”
Jaramillo says that she was beyond excited to get to the store and buy some healthy foods for herself and her rescue dogs. But little did she know that this was only the first act of kindness she would encounter that day.
As she was waiting in line, Jaramillo says that in her exhausted state, her dog food purchases had accidentally been pushed into the pile of groceries belonging to the person in front of her. But as she began to apologize and move her stuff out of the way, something incredible happened.
For no reason at all, the man in front of her offered to pay for her groceries — and not just the pet food that had wandered into his own pile, but all of her groceries. $375 worth of food.
Jaramillo was nothing short of stunned.
“I stared wide-eyed at this handsome young African-American man, this stranger, as if he’d just dropped through the ceiling like a black James Bond, like a Batman, like the Black Panther,” she wrote. “Then I started to cry.”
It would still take Jaramillo a few more tears and a bunch more minutes to realize who this larger-than-life, kindness-oozing stranger was.
“I asked his name,” she recalled. His answer? “Chris.”
But when she probed further, feeling like he was some angel sent from heaven, he still wouldn’t tell her that he wasn’t just any Chris. He was actually the world-famous rapper, actor, and philanthropist Ludacris. Yes — REALLY.
In that moment, though, he said he was “just a guy,” and made sure as he left that someone would help her bring her groceries to her car.
It wasn’t until Ludacris had left the store that the cashier revealed his secret to Jaramillo . “You know that’s Ludacris, right?” she told her.
And that’s when Jaramillo really started crying. And singing (Ludacris lyrics, of course). And screaming with joy.
She then recalls launching “into the worst possible white-woman rendition of his hit [song] ‘Rollout (My Business)’ thus probably undoing all goodwill any person of color in that line felt for me while watching me sob so gratefully on the Grammy-winner’s shoulder.”
LOL — oh my goodness, could you not love this more? To say that this small act of kindness made Jaramillo ’s day, week, and year, would be a ridiculous understatement. She was absolutely ecstatic — and still is.
Within 24 hours of sharing the post on Facebook, it went completely viral, with over 7K likes and 4K shares to date. But the fact that her story has touched so many strangers across the Internet is what’s really blown her away.
“The response has kept me in tears of gratitude for going on two days,” she tells Babble, adding that she felt vulnerable sharing her story with so many others, but the responses have all been positive, and have brought people together in some truly amazing ways.
“People replied to me … people I didn’t even know … and told me of their own downfalls, dips, tears and fears in their own lives and my shame at my own struggle just fell away,” she shares. “I knew I was not alone. And if I’m not alone, then neither is anyone else.”
Well, that’s for sure; Jaramillo most certainly isn’t alone. Her story has lifted the hearts of so many people (including myself), and reminded us all that even the smallest act of kindness can make the biggest difference in the lives of those around us.
Although Ludacris didn’t want to take any credit here, this was far from his first act of kindness. The rapper is the founder of The Ludacris Foundation, an organization which aims to “inspire urban youth to live their dreams and envision new possibilities for their lives,” as their website explains. TLF partners with inner city schools and organizations like the Boys & Girls Club, funding their programs and providing needed resources.
(As if we could not love Ludacris more, amiright?)
Speaking with Babble, Jaramillo says she hopes this story helps each of us remember to spread a little extra love to our neighbors, if we ever feel moved to do so.
Kindness, she says, is “your greatest currency and your greatest power because it comes from the source of all beneficial things: love. You think you have nothing to give? You do.”
… And now I’m weeping again.
Bottom line: Be kind. Always. And give back the kindness that has been given to you whenever you can. It really does make the world go ’round.