Ann Marie Iannaccio

Ann Marie Iannaccio vividly remembers the day her ex-husband called her and told her their relationship was over. They had been dating since she was 14, been married for 14-and-a-half years, and were raising two children together.

On a Facebook page called The Kindness Challenge, Iannaccio wrote that immediately after the call ended, she broke down into tears inside her bedroom:

“I was left with an 11-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, all of us crying hysterically on my bed.”

Hours later, Iannaccio went to pick up supplies at a local Michaels craft store. As she walked through the shop, something triggered a memory of her husband. She wrote:

“Before I knew it, I was down one of the aisles sobbing so hard I could barely catch my breathe [sic]. All I could think was that my life was crumbling and I had just spent 26 years with someone who threw me away.”

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When she was at her lowest, someone in the next aisle heard her crying.

A woman walked over to Iannaccio, and without saying a word, she opened her arms to embrace her:

“I collapsed inside her embrace soaking my face and her shoulders in my tears. I don’t typically hug strangers. At that point she told me to pray and not to worry. She told me everything was going to work out.”

Slowly the young mom’s tears began to subside. After a deep breath, she composed herself.

The two parted ways without a formal introduction, but the memory of the stranger stayed in her mind forever:

“I believe in God and I feel he placed this wonderful stranger in my path to let me know my children and I would be OK. She clearly had an impact on my life because here I am thinking about her five years later. God bless her. I wonder if she knows that her actions gave me life on a day that I felt I was dying inside.”

Ann Marie Iannacca

In an interview with Independent Journal Review, Iannaccio said it took her a while to decide to share her story on social media:

“I didn’t want pity. I didn’t want friends who follow to think ‘here she goes taking about the divorce.’ I didn’t want my kids, who follow, to feel bad. I finally decided that maybe, just maybe, the God that could come out of sharing would trump any negativity that could come off it. I trusted in humanity’s handling of my story.”

Even though the event took place more than five years ago, she continues to feel the impact of the woman’s kindness as she carries on with her life:

“When we live in the present we are aware of everything around us. We can see and feel those around us. It is then, when we are aware, that we are able to affect positive change in the lives of others in need. Had the woman had ear buds in or been on her phone she would literally not have heard my cry.”

She added that she intentionally left out one detail about her story when she posted in the Kindness Challenge as she thought it would distract from the kindness of the individual:

“One thing I didn’t mention in my story is that the woman was African-American. I am Caucasian. Humanity and kindness see no color. I wanted the story to be one of kindness not one of race relations. Where there is genuine kindness nothing else matters, including race.”

More than anything, she hopes her story can help encourage those who are hurting to reach out and those with open hearts to listen.

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