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Nicole Phillips, Published September 21 2012

Kindness is Contagious: Couple offer help amid family’s pain

My heart aches when I see tragedy in this world, especially tragedy that could have been avoided. That’s how I felt the morning of July 7 when I opened the paper and read about the Deutschers, a young couple and their 1-year-old daughter, who were killed the night before in an accident with a drunken driver.

There is plenty to be angry, ashamed and confused about in this world.

No act of kindness can erase what has been done. We simply cannot change the past. But here is the beauty: We all have the power to decrease the pain.

We all have the power to help another person learn to smile again by showing them kindness and easing their burden through our words and our actions.

I’d like to share with you a letter that I received at The Forum from a friend of the Deutscher family.

“I can’t call it just an ‘act of kindness.’ I call it true friendship in the wake of a tragedy: continuing on, as needed, for a grieving family. Katie and Dustin Oster were best friends of Aaron and Allison Deutscher, who were killed when their vehicle was struck head-on by a drunk driver on July 6. They have become a Godsend to Tom and Arlene Deutscher, Aaron’s parents.

“Putting Aaron’s home up for sale was the last thing Tom and Arlene wanted to do, not because they didn’t know it needed to be done, but because of what it was going to take to get it ready to be sold. Their son, Aaron, their daughter-in-law, Allison, and their granddaughter, Brielle, lived in this home. Overwhelmed, inconsolable, heartbroken, and not knowing where to start, Tom and Arlene found the strength to begin going through the home.

“Going through Aaron, Allison and Brielle’s belongings was heartbreaking and physically draining. There were so many things that needed to be done in order to get the home ready to be put on the market. With Tom and Arlene not living in the West Fargo area, Katie’s kindness was priceless.

“Besides mowing the lawn and taking care of the flower beds and garden, Katie helped Tom and Arlene pack, clean, organize, buy food, run errands and whatever else they needed done, without being asked to do it!

“She was there physically, emotionally and spiritually for this family without question or reservation.

“Dustin was right there beside Katie, when it was time for the hard labor like moving furniture and boxes, touching up paint and staining the deck.

“They even got their family members involved in some of these projects. They took care of the last-minute details that really needed to be done quickly, efficiently and without hesitation.

“Katie is still there for them and will continue to make sure their needs are met, doing all she can for Tom and Arlene when they need her. Something tells me that Katie and Dustin’s deep friendship and love for Aaron, Allison and Brielle will keep them close to this family forever.

“Arlene and Tom are truly grateful and appreciative to Katie and Dustin for their kindness that is extraordinary in nature, yet simply true to Katie’s and Dustin’s nature of giving. This is an immense example of unconditional love, not expecting anything in return.”

When there is no act of kindness we can do to make someone’s pain go away, there is plenty of opportunity to ease an aching heart.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at nphillips15@hotmail.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo, and currently the Executive Director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.