Kind World: A Story Of Depression And Shoveling Snow In 2013, Laura DiGeronimo got a holiday surprise, but not the kind many people would welcome. As part of the series, "Kind World," a story about a break-up, depression and shoveling snow.

Kind World: A Story Of Depression And Shoveling Snow

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Today the East Coast is seeing what we hope is winter's last hurrah. Areas of the Midwest are shoveling snow, too, which all brings to mind a story we heard from reporter Erika Lantz of WBUR in Boston about a very snowy winter four years ago.

ERIKA LANTZ, BYLINE: In 2013, Laura DiGeronimo was 25 and in love. She lived with her boyfriend, and she knew something big was on the horizon.

LAURA DIGERONIMO: Everybody was asking, how's the seating going to go when you get married? Do you think you guys are going to have two kids or three kids? It would be, you know, wow, this sure would be a good place to have a wedding.

LANTZ: One day her boyfriend said it was time for a heart to heart.

DIGERONIMO: It was December 22, 2013, and he said he was done.

LANTZ: Done, done. That night, they started packing his things. On Christmas three days later, her family asked the obvious question.

DIGERONIMO: Where's the ring?

LANTZ: In the weeks that followed, Laura sank into depression.

DIGERONIMO: The dishes in my sink were probably about two and a half to three feet high, piled in horrible stagnant water. I wasn't me.

LANTZ: And she felt too overwhelmed to shovel the snow piling up outside.

DIGERONIMO: It looked as though my house was a set of windows built into a snow pile. So then I just in a really weak moment I think on some level wanted somebody to say, hey, are you OK? So I posted on Facebook.

LANTZ: She asked, hey, can anyone help me shovel or know someone with a plow I can hire?

RUTHIE BROWN: I watched it for a little bit, and nobody, not one person had responded to it.

LANTZ: That's Ruthie Brown of Winchendon, Mass. She didn't know Laura well. They had met at LensCrafters where Laura's an optician, and they clicked.

R. BROWN: I'm like, there's no way this girl can go do this by herself.

BILL BROWN: Yeah, I had just gotten done doing our driveway. My name's Bill Brown. I'm Ruthie's husband of 37 years.

R. BROWN: Thirty-six.

B. BROWN: Thirty-six years.

R. BROWN: You love me (laughter).

LANTZ: Ruthie convinced Laura to let them come over right away while Laura was still at work.

B. BROWN: We loaded the snowblower up, went out there and looked over things and said, oh.

LANTZ: Yeah, it was bad. Ruthie went inside to plug in the snowblower, and she saw the pile of dishes, so she washed them. She noticed the floors, so she mopped them. Laura was still at work, but when she got home that evening, she couldn't believe her eyes.

DIGERONIMO: It felt like I could say help, and it wasn't weak to need their help. Like, it made me feel strong again.

LANTZ: Laura says that what Ruthie and Bill did was a jumpstart for her. But for them, it was natural.

R. BROWN: If there's something you can do to help somebody or do something, you don't let that pass because you can't go back. You can never go back and try to help her again on that day.

LANTZ: Laura says when it comes down to it, Ruthie had no idea what she was going through, but she acted anyway.

DIGERONIMO: She just needed to know that my dishes were dirty and that there was some soap right there. And she could just pick it up, and solve that problem. So it really has made me, like, want to be somebody who picks up the soap.

LANTZ: For NPR News, I'm Erika Lantz in Boston.


SHAPIRO: And Erika Lantz produces WBUR's podcast "Kind World."


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