Living in the hustle and bustle of New York City, I strategically chose the word BREATHE.
Earlier this year, I performed in a musical and met a very special woman in my cast, who I've been getting closer to over the past few months. She served in the Army Reserves for 8 years and as our friendship has grown, she's courageously shared much of her story with me.
Inspired to join after 9/11 with the sole motive of being a part of something larger than herself, she was deployed to Iraq for a year in 2003, sustaining a brain injury and surviving military sexual trauma.
Coming back to America was no picnic. Having lived through the horrors of war, it took nearly a decade for her to feel home, let alone healed.
She first turned to theater and performing as a form of escape. Eventually, through the love of the theater community, performing became a form of solace/healing instead. She says the arts were literally her salvation.
She recently came to see me in a new musical I'm doing (that just so happens to be about veterans returning home from WW2 & also uses the word "Breathe" in several significant song lyrics). I was hoping the show would be meaningful for her.
Upon seeing her moved to tears backstage afterward, I felt compelled to pass along my BREATHE key to her. She stopped and stared at me with watery eyes that flickered with a light that matched that of a child being told she was going to Disney World for the first time. I wrapped my arms around her and she started to weep, and in that moment, I'd never so strongly felt the immense power of a tiny act of kindness.
A few days later, she texted me from an audition, "I'm wearing your key to keep me grounded and maybe bring me a bit of luck."
I'm so grateful to The Giving Keys for spreading the message of care, generosity, and love. Thanks for challenging me to seek a small opportunity to make a monumental difference in my friend's life.