Jennifer Golsch got a sweet surprise on Thursday.
Her order of a dozen cupcakes at the Howell Kroger bakery had already been paid for by a complete stranger.
“You hear of people doing that, but does that really happen?” Golsch asked.
Now she knows it does.
Why she paid for a stranger’s cupcakes
In this case, it was a random act of kindness by a mother whose daughter shared the same birthday, Oct. 11, as Golsch’s child, Kristine. This stranger could no longer celebrate with her own child and chose to honor someone else with kindness in the midst of grief.
When Golsch returned home with the chocolate cupcakes adorned with purple and turquoise frosting and topped with mermaid tails, she opened the card the stranger had left.
“Hello! Happy day to you!” the card reads. “I’m not sure what event is being celebrated, but I hope it is joyous!”
The writer then shared her sadness.
“Today would be my daughter’s 22nd birthday. Unfortunately, I lost her to suicide this past May.”
But the grieving mother sought to find a glimmer of happiness.
“Please allow me to share a bit of your joy today by paying for your cake. Happy Birthday!”
How Golsch reacted to the gesture
Golsch was stunned and felt a rush of emotions– sadness and gratitude, along with compassion and empathy.
“No matter what kind of day I am having – good, bad, or indifferent – someone is having a worse day and struggling,” Golsch said. “That woman could be struggling and instead of sitting in her grief, she decided to do something positive. She could have been staying home and crying, and being angry at the world for not having her child with her. It would be so easy to be angry, but she chose to do what is harder – find something happy and joyful.”
‘I immediately wanted to give her a hug’
Golsch wishes she could hug the mother and tell her how sorry she is for her loss, but has no way of knowing her identity.
Kimmy Egnor was working in the Kroger bakery on Wednesday when the mystery woman came in around 4 p.m. and inquired whether there were any kids’ cake orders she could pay for.
Egnor was confused, but pulled the orders she had for the next day and explained to the woman she would give her the price tags and she could pay for them at the register.
The woman returned a short time later with receipts for Golsch’s dozen cupcakes, as well as for a quarter-sheet birthday cake ordered by Sharon Shaw.
She offered no explanation to Egnor but left cards with the sweet treats, thanked her and quickly walked away.
Egnor went to tuck the receipts into the cards and saw the messages.
“I immediately wanted to give her a hug, but she had already left,” she said. “I think it was brave of her and nice to want to share something positive with someone else.”
MORE: Brighton plans therapy dog in every school next year
“I know the loss of someone is difficult and I want to give her a hug and tell her I am sorry for her loss,” added Egnor, 22, the same age the woman’s daughter would have been. “I imagine she is a really strong person. It’s nice to see someone want to make someone else’s day better.”
This woman was also surprised by the gesture
Sharon Shaw said her day was definitely made on Friday when she arrived at the Kroger bakery to pick up her chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.
Decorations on the cake included frosted balloons and the message “Happy Birthday Terri” for her daughter who turns 52 on Saturday, but “hasn’t had a birthday cake in awhile.”
Shaw was greeted at the bakery counter by a clerk who gave her the cake with a blue card laying on top, telling her it was paid for and adding that she had been crying all day.
Shaw opened the card which had a similar message to the one Golsch received, and she started crying, too.
“To have some lady who is feeling a lot of pain reach out – that’s incredible,” she said. “There are some wonderful people in this world. If I could talk to her, I would tell her that I truly appreciate her kindness and I can’t imagine her loss. It makes you realize not to take your family for granted and to grab hold and give them all the hugs you can.”
She added that this was the kindest act a stranger had ever done for her, and is one she will never forget. She plans to keep the card forever, and notes that when her family celebrates Terri’s birthday on Saturday, they will all look at that cake a whole lot differently than they would have without the story now attached to it.
Golsch said one day her children will understand why she kept staring at the cupcakes, mesmerized, on what was her firstborn’s 10th birthday.
Because of her children’s young ages, for now she has explained only that a nice woman paid for the cupcakes as a random act of kindness. She plans to keep the card and show it to her children when they are older, a reminder that it is not hard to do something that can positively impact someone’s day.
“It was 12 cupcakes, but I will hold this with me for the rest of my life and always remember that happened,” Golsch said. “It’s so easy to drown in sorrows, but to get up to face the day and do something kind and selfless for someone else when you are hurting is way more difficult… I want her to know she has a community pulling for her and if they knew who she was, we would be there to comfort her.”
Contact Susan Bromley at email@example.com or on Twitter at @SusanBromley10