Having a loved one serve overseas can fray the strongest of nerves and many spouses, partners, parents and children spend years in a constant state of anxiety.
Samantha Ford is all too familiar with this sentiment. As ABC News notes, the 24-year-old Massachusetts woman said goodbye last September to her army specialist boyfriend, Albert DeSimone, when he was deployed to Afghanistan. The couple has known one another since the fifth grade.
While it’s certainly no substitute for the real thing, Ford keeps him close with a bumper sticker on her car that reads: “1/2 my heart is in Afghanistan” and goes about her life.
But as author Chris Abani, quoting his mother, has remarked: “You know, you can steel your heart against any kind of trouble, any kind of horror. But the simple act of kindness from a complete stranger will unstitch you.”
Last week, Ford made a pit stop at an Arlington, Mass. Dunkin Donuts. When she returned to her car, someone had tucked a note under the windshield wiper.
The note, signed by a “United States Veteran” read: "I noticed the sticker on the back of your car. Take your hero out to dinner when he comes home. Thank you both for serving. Him deployed and you for waiting." Along with the note: two crisp $20 bills.
Ford became unstitched.
She snapped a photo of the note and posted it to a Facebook group dedicated to military families who converge to share stories and kind, encouraging words.
"There are no words to describe how I'm feeling right now," she wrote as a caption underneath the posted photo. "Tears in my eyes. I just wish I could thank whoever did this! God bless our troops and all of those who stand behind them."
The random act of kindness has touched a different kind of nerve online. Since she posted the note on March 17, the image has been shared nearly 230,000 times and has received 1.7 million “likes.”
Also unstitched: the man who inspired it all. During a Skype call with ABC News, DeSimone admitted the gesture also brought him to tears. But most of all he’s just glad others are “there” for his girlfriend while he can’t be.