DEAR ABBY: I have enjoyed reading the occasional letters people write you about the acts of kindness they have experienced. I would like to share one that happened to me.
About a year ago my husband left me. Shortly afterward, I learned that he had embezzled funds from work, been fired from his job, and that our home was in foreclosure and the utility bills had not been paid.
I had been an agoraphobic housewife for years. In a panic for funds, I held a yard sale. That weekend I met quite a few of my neighbors and, in the course of the day, we shared stories of marriages gone wrong. I received many words of encouragement, even as I watched my beloved possessions carted away for a pittance. But the most amazing thing happened that day. A woman I'd never met before came back after the sale, handed me an envelope and left. Inside was $200. I cried like a baby.
Since then, I have overcome my agoraphobia, found a job and an apartment, and have begun the long process of rebuilding my life. I have no way to find that angel to thank her, but I'm hoping she reads this letter and knows that through her act of faith and love she helped me to achieve independence. You are, indeed, an angel, mystery woman! -- MS. B. FROM HORN LAKE, MISS.
DEAR MS. B.: The kind of empathy you described is usually demonstrated by someone who has experienced a similar kind of pain. Doing a good deed for someone in need can be an empowering act -- not only for the receiver but also for the doer. Sometime in the future, you will meet a person who needs a helping hand -- and when you do, you'll pass her good deed along and be a "guardian angel," too.