Amy Beth Gardner of Tennessee shared a Facebook update last week about the Halloween behavior of her two foster daughters, and her story — both heartbreaking and poignant — went viral.
At the time of this writing, Gardner's post has received over 7,000 likes and over 3,000 shares.
What was the post about?
Gardner detailed a harrowing story about her two foster daughters and a previous Halloween, which occurred before she took over care of the girls.
In Gardner's story, the two young girls were forced to watch an adult eat every last piece of their Halloween spoils, and then were made to eat the empty wrappers instead.
Gardner said that during the girls' first Halloween in her home in 2014, she noticed that the girls exhibited odd behaviors when it came to the holiday candy.
"I noticed that the girls were discreetly counting the pieces of candy they received as they walked from house to house in their adorable costumes," Gardner wrote.
Gardner revealed that when she and her family got home, she helped the girls count their candy and labeled their respective bags.
She began a nightly tradition — that continued over a span of several weeks — of counting the candy with the girls, updating the count and relabeling the bags when candy was eaten.
"Despite our assurances that we would not eat their candy, the girls asked if they could recount the pieces before going to bed," Gardner wrote.
"I would sit and count their candy with them night after night, earning their trust one lollipop at a time," she added.
Is there more?
Gardner felt compelled to tell the story to her followers this year as one of her now-adopted daughters gave her a wonderful gift.
"Last night, as I was cleaning up our kitchen after dinner, I noticed my youngest daughter rooting around in the pantry," Gardner wrote.
She revealed that her daughter approached her with a bag of Halloween candy.
"She had wrapped the bag in a piece of paper and it was clear she was presenting it to me as a gift," Gardner wrote.
"As I pulled the piece of paper off the bag, I saw these words scrawled in her sweet third-grade handwriting: 'Mom, I want to give you a taste of how much love I have for you by giving you my candy.'"
Gardner detailed how moved she was by her daughter's actions.
"Let that sink in for a moment," she wrote. "This child, who was once forced to eat empty candy wrappers, went through her bag of Halloween candy to select pieces she thought I would enjoy and then gave them to me as a gift. She didn’t choose her least favorite candies or only pick out one or two pieces to give. She filled a bag full of her very favorite pieces and gave them to me with so much earnest pride on her face that I could cry just typing these words."
You have gifts to offer, too. But, like my daughter and her candy, I’m almost certain that your most valuable gift is connected to deeply rooted pain in your life. You and I have the opportunity daily to make the choice to take the terrible things that have happened to us and turn them into gifts to offer to this hurting world. My daughter’s gift of candy was priceless because of what it cost her. She chose to give despite what had been done to her. What if you and I show that same kind of courage today as we take inventory of our own pain — and allow the bitter to become sweet?