30: Pink Cupcakes

30: Pink Cupcakes

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More

Pink Cupcakes

Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.

~Barbara de Angelis

I was hugely pregnant and feeling stir-crazy in our 500-square-foot apartment. I had finished my last college final the day before, and I suddenly felt lost. I had spent every day for four years studying engineering, but now all I could do was twiddle my thumbs and wait for my little boy to be born.

I needed to channel my energy into something. I decided to cook an elaborate dinner to make up for all the nights my husband and I ate pizza on the floor surrounded by textbooks.

I grabbed my keys and headed to the grocery store. I quickly found the spinach and tomatoes I needed but continued wandering the aisles. Dinner was still hours away, so I was in no hurry to go back to our little apartment. Then I thought of my younger sister, who was finishing the last exam of her freshman year. She had struggled with the transition from high school to college and was worried about her grades this semester. I wondered if I should do something nice for her.

Pink cupcakes, I heard a voice say. Startled, I jumped and looked around. The words sounded like they were spoken directly into my ear, but no one else was in the aisle.

Pink cupcakes, I thought, and suddenly I felt peaceful. I thought my sister would appreciate a treat to celebrate her last exam, and pink cupcakes seemed as good a reward as any. But why did they have to be pink? And why cupcakes? Cupcakes weren’t her favorite dessert, and pink wasn’t a color that she favored. But I bought all the ingredients anyway and went home to bake.

As I frosted the cupcakes and arranged five of them on a plate for my sister, I heard that voice again: Take some to your neighbor.

I thought of our new next-door neighbors. They were a young couple with two kids, and they had just moved in that weekend. We were planning to move out soon, so I hadn’t made any effort to meet them. But we couldn’t eat all those cupcakes by ourselves, so I made another plate of five cupcakes and knocked on my neighbors’ door.

There was no response, and I started to feel silly. I had half expected something important to happen, what with the voice giving me those weird instructions. I shrugged and put the plate down outside their door.

Just then, the door opened. A woman with tangled hair, stained clothes, and a tired face stood there, with a baby on her hip and a nervous preschooler hugging her leg. When she saw the cupcakes, tears filled her eyes.

Her daughter’s fear turned to elation as she eagerly grabbed a cupcake. “Pink cupcakes!” she exclaimed with pure joy and pranced into the other room.

The exhausted mother looked at me with deep gratitude as she told me about their move across the country after her husband lost his job. They hoped to make a fresh start after he finished his degree, but as soon as they arrived, they wondered if it was a mistake. The space was cramped, the kids were restless, and they had no friends. She told me of crying into half-unpacked boxes and worrying in bed late at night.

On this particular day, her biggest issue was pink cupcakes. They were her daughter’s favorite, and she had promised that they could get some soon. Early that morning, the young girl reminded her mom of the promise. Yet the baby was fussy, and the house was a mess. The cake pan hadn’t been unpacked from the boxes yet, and there was barely enough money to buy the ingredients. My neighbor was devastated that she had to ask her daughter to wait yet another day.

Then she overheard the girl praying for pink cupcakes. This broke her heart even deeper. She was completely overwhelmed with life and felt like a failure as a mom. She lacked the energy to provide the simplest treat to her sweet and patient child.

And then I knocked on the door and delivered the pink cupcakes.

I had no idea why I was making them, or whether this family would even want them. But I didn’t have anything else to do, so I made pink cupcakes. My sister was grateful for the sentiment, but I quickly realized that the treat was never meant for her. The pink cupcakes were for my frazzled neighbor and her beautiful daughter, but they were also to teach me a lesson about love and helping others. I discovered that everyone around me is fighting battles that I know nothing about. I learned that I should be kind to all, even if they will only be in my life for a moment. Those pink cupcakes taught me that no matter how hard life gets, we are never alone, and we are never forgotten.

~Julieann Selden

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