For one Burlington family, November should have been a time of birthday cake, family parties and marking the growth of their little one with a fresh pencil tick on the door jamb.
Instead, they are honouring the potential of a life that ended before it even had a chance to begin.
Cole’s first birthday would have been Nov. 5. His family, who have requested anonymity, chose to mark the date in a very special way, spreading acts of kindness in the community.
“We weren’t sure how to celebrate,” said Cole’s aunt, speaking on behalf of the family.
She and several members of their family were inspired by a colleague who went through a similar experience 11 years ago, and each year buys a coffee for someone anonymously. “We decided that’s what we were going to do.”
That’s why, on Nov. 4, two diners at Turtle Jack’s were treated to lunch. Cole’s aunt footed the tab and took a moment to write out a short note.
“Today would be my nephew, Cole’s, first birthday, but unfortunately, he is not with us to celebrate. To honour and remember him, each member of our family has chosen a ‘random act of kindness’. Please enjoy your lunch on me, and help us remember our sweet Cole.”
One of the diners promptly posted a photo of the note and a message on the Burlington Together Facebook page.
“Whoever did this — know that we are so very humbled by your generosity and that our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family on the anniversary of what would have been your nephew’s 1st birthday. Sending many thanks and hugs.”
Understandably, it has been a difficult 12 months for Cole’s family, said his aunt. “Nobody should have a hard year like that. For nine months, it was a healthy pregnancy,” she said. “Unfortunately, he died during birth. Nobody got to know him. I left the card for them to know they were having lunch for Cole.”
The acts of kindness have helped bring some comfort to Cole’s family, and his aunt hopes community members pass on that kindness wherever they can. “It’s actually just really easy to be nice,” she said.
“We are not doing it for publicity. People now know about Cole, and think about him. We're going to keep doing it every year on Cole's birthday."