Losing a baby is a terrible thing. It's so deeply awful, so life-altering, that I can't quite come up with a word to describe what that wretched event must feel like. I don't know how people crawl out of that loss, how they move forward with their lives, how they find it in their hearts to feel any kindness at all. And yet, there are those who manage to show people the way. This grieving grandmother's act of kindness after the loss of her grandchild had the most amazing ripple effect in her community. And it should be used an example of incredible character and strength in the face of great loss.
Vanessa Phillips, a woman living in the Jacksonville, Florida area, stopped in to her local Publix Bakery at the beginning of October with an unusual request, according to a Facebook post by Publix employee Nick DeClemente. She was looking to buy a cake for a baby's first birthday, but not for anyone she knew. She wanted to buy a cake and give it to someone in honor of the baby her daughter-in-law had lost one year earlier. Her grandson was stillborn, and Phillips wanted to keep his memory alive by "paying it forward" to another baby who would be turning one.
As DeClemente wrote on Facebook, Phillips' generosity and kindness really moved him:
She then started to tear up and tell me that she had a stillborn child a year ago and in tribute to him she wanted to pay for someone else's cake. I went to the cake order drawer and found this one. She told me thank you and appreciated that I let her do this. It was probably one of the most touching things I've seen in all my years working in retail. I hope that this lady finds peace through this tribute and that the customer receiving this gift will, if nothing else, pay it forward.
That story on its own would be enough to warm a person's heart, of course. Except that it didn't end there. Kesha Campbell just happened to be the recipient of that special cake, and after DeClemente's post began to get noticed, as per the BBC, a friend pointed it out to her and she realized the cake had been her son's. Once she learned her identity, Campbell told the BBC:
I found the lady and thanked her. God bless her heart and that beautiful baby soul.
Beyond that lovely moment, however, it looks as though Phillips' own kindness has had a moving effect on social media. People have been taking to DeClemente's post over the past few weeks to share prayers, kind thoughts, and their own personal stories.
What a beautiful way to honor her stillborn whom she loved, carried and nurtured in her womb for several months ❤️
THANK YOU for sharing this! It especially touched my heart because I have a son that died at 3 weeks of age and to this day, my mom NEVER mentions him, honors his bday or anything...and it still hurts - 25 years later!! So this woman honoring her grandson in that way brought tears to my eyes! BLESS her -- and you for sharing!! <3
In other words, Phillips' kindness has helped others heal — and consider doing something nice for someone else in the world.
That cake wasn't just a beautiful tribute to her grandson, it was a reminder to everyone that you can still be good, still be kind. And still have hope, even when life looks hopeless.