Grace under fire


By Lisa Sugarman

I’ve always believed that it’s the little things we do that matter the most. Little gestures of kindness as simple as holding a door or writing a thank-you note or giving someone a compliment can be more impactful than most of us usually realize. Because letting someone know that we’re thinking of them boosts spirits. And the emotional byproduct of that is some really powerful stuff.

See, it’s one thing when we do random acts of kindness as individuals. Obviously that’s wonderful. But it’s something entirely different when we band together as a team or a group or a people for the benefit of someone else. What that is, is inspiration.

Now I’m sure there’s no way you’ve missed all the blue ribbons tied on the trees and telephone poles and fences and car mirrors all over town. Because they’re literally everywhere. And by now most of us know why they’re there. They’re there for a little girl named Megan. And their purpose is simple. They’re designed to be a visual representation that shows Megan, a seventh grader who’s fighting an aggressive form of bone cancer, that people are thinking of her. Nothing more. Nothing less. But it’s exactly enough. And it’s beautiful. So beautiful that every time I notice one, I pause, then I think of Megan (in spite of the fact that I have no idea what she looks like), and then I send her some positive vibes.

The funny thing is, I don’t even know Meg, although one of my daughters has met her a few times through friends. I’ve never met her or her family and honestly wouldn’t know her if she was sitting next to me at Starbucks while I was typing this. Yet I feel close to her somehow because of all these ribbons and what they represent. I think of her and her family often, actually, in a way that I hope transcends the fact that we’re complete strangers.

Look, every single one of us, whether we know Megan or not, whether we live in Marblehead or the surrounding towns, or not, wishes we had some secret weapon to kick the crap out of cancer and heal her. If only. But it’s because we don’t that we do the next best thing, which is to inspire. We resign that if we can’t heal her body, we can certainly heal her spirit.

And from what I hear through community chatter, these blue ribbons are doing just that. They’re giving this little girl and her family the feeling that they’re surrounded. That the wagons are circled. That they’re not alone. That they’re loved and supported.

Simple, cheap, craft-store ribbon. Who would’ve thought that something so innocuous could unify and bond so many people? Crazy, isn’t it? Such a humble, modest idea that sent such a powerful message. And I just love things like that. Little, almost insignificant acts that speak volumes and inspire.

And this thing people are doing for Megan is just a small example of the kind of power we all have to lift spirits. Because for whatever the reason, some spirits need lifting. And some are heavier than others and require some real heavy lifting. This was one of those cases.

See, all too often people get these types of brilliant ideas that could very easily translate into real, tangible happiness or joy for other people. The unfortunate thing is, all too often we just let those ideas float into and then out of our heads. We don’t act on them. But we should. If nothing else, this idea a group of women had to tie ribbons all over town in support of one little girl is proof of that. We’re all taught not to be too impulsive or hasty. That we should think things through. And in most cases I think that’s good advice. But not in all cases. In matters of the heart, I believe the opposite. I believe what we really need to do is act completely on impulse. When you have feelings of love or appreciation or affection for other people the thing we can’t afford to do is keep them in our head. What we need to do is express them. Otherwise they’re void of any value and not doing anyone any good.

So “hi” Megan, my name is Lisa. I’m just one of your many fans and I want you to think of my column this week as my version of a blue ribbon. Sorry, I would’ve typed the whole thing in blue if the paper was printed in color, but no such luck. You get the idea, though. Just wanted you to know that I’m thinking about you. And I’m by far not the only one.

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on and at Spirit of ’76 Bookstore.



6 thoughts on “Grace under fire

  1. Lisa-
    As usual, your words & thoughts couldn’t be more beautifuller.
    Do you like the word I just made up…
    Do you happen to know why the 2 signs from the roofs of The Village Plazas are no longer ?

  2. Thank you for writing such a beautiful article. It was very true (although she is no “little girl” at all, but a quite a lovely young woman.) The signs in Village Plaza were a very nice gesture and truly appreciated at the time, but they were asked to be taken down after a few weeks at the family’s request. I’m sure anyone can understand that this is not an easy road to walk. Each ribbon is a wish, a prayer, a hope, a hug. They are a simple, thoughtful, and a quiet gesture and all that is needed for now.

  3. I’ve been surfing online more than 4 hours today,
    yet I never found any interesting article like
    yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content
    as you did, the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before.

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