Slowly he walked up the sidewalk, with his face pointed toward the ground. As he inched closer to me with every step, I was drawn to look at him. He was thin, of average height for a boy his age, and had short uncombed hair. His skin was pale and his face dotted with acne.
A few feet before passing me he raised his head, his eyes meeting mine. What was seconds felt like hours. The window into his soul was opened just enough for me to peek through. Flowing from him was such pain, sadness and loneliness. A deep darkness consumed him. A darkness that radiated from him. A darkness that could be felt.
As we passed each other and his shoulders met mine, I heard him scream. It wasn’t audible, but it was deafening.
Moments later, as his unspoken words still filled my mind, my feet came to a stop. Turning back to look for him, he had traveled far from me, too far to call out to. Standing there, I watched as he slowly approached the bus that would take him home. From a distance, I could still hear his silent scream, calling out for help to anyone who would hear him.
This was a teenage boy who was walking out of my son’s high school earlier this week. The annual meeting with my son’s group of teachers was scheduled to begin in only a couple of minutes. They were all waiting on me to arrive and not wanting to hold them up, I didn’t stop. Not in time. I should have stopped while he was still there standing before me on the sidewalk, but I didn’t. Shame on me.
I don’t know what I would have done or said to him, and maybe nothing would have helped. However, sometimes all it takes is one word. One person to take the time to show compassion.
One kind word. One act of love toward another. Is that too much to ask?
We go through life not setting out to be selfish, but sometimes we find that that’s exactly what we are. Those teachers could have waited. I could have delayed my entry into the building for one minute. That one minute could have been the difference between life and death. That is something I’ll probably never know.
As we pass by someone, we don’t know what they’re going through. Their pain is not always revealed for us to see. What we do know, is that everyone needs someone. Everyone needs a friend, a confidant, someone who cares about them. From time to time, everyone needs a hand to help lift them up. It is our duty as mankind to love others, to care for them, to be compassionate and to give of ourselves.
Our life’s meaning goes far beyond ourselves.
Love others. Love is not merely a word to be carelessly thrown about. It is an action. An action that requires your time. Just one minute may be all it takes to make a difference in someone’s life.
One minute. What will you do with it? Keep it for yourself or share it with someone who needs it?
I certainly don’t want to continue using my minutes worrying over a huge blunder being released from my mouth….yet I let it control me. sigh.
Our mouths say some pretty off the wall things at times. It’s good to be in control of what you say though, but being too careful prevents us from saying much of what we should say.
Yes, one minute or three – all make a difference to someone else. Please don’t beat yourself up over not stopping.
Every moment counts. I won’t and like Khai said, it probably wouldn’t have had done much good anyway even if I had stopped. With that said though, sometimes it’s the words from a stranger that stick with me the most. So who’s to say they wouldn’t have had the same affect on him?
Very true. You never know. Maybe the mere fact you took the time to look into his eyes made a difference.
I want to believe I would give one minute. One word. One comfort. I suspect in review of my life I would be facing many missed moments to help. 😦
Missed moments…I fear that we would all be missing many more opportunities than we realize.
That is my fear as well.
As the kid who was silently screaming for help, A LOT, in high school and even in college– if I didn’t know you, and you stopped to ask me what was wrong, chances are really good that I would have shrugged or gotten mad that you intruded. I would have believed I had failed in my duty to maintain a good outward appearance regardless of the turmoil of my inner being.
But those who interacted with me every day, who noticed when I changed from sunny, upbeat and helpful into someone who was angry, sad, self-harming and lost– those people, are the ones who should have reached out to me. The few who did probably kept me alive until I could get some help and start to deal with the things that were there.
But when random strangers would tell me they knew I was upset/hurting/angry/whatever, even if they were RIGHT, it just added another layer to the complex emotional maelstrom I was navigating.
First off, I am so sorry to hear that you had to go through so much pain and lack of reaching out from your loved ones. Those are the very people who should reach out the most. Maybe you were better at hiding your true feeling than you thought. I know for me what is seen on the outside is nothing like what I’m feeling on the inside. Even my outside anger is no reflection to the anger within.
I understand your point and am positive that you are right. Most people would not care for a stranger approaching them about their depressed demeanor. With that said though, as I mentioned to Sue in reply to her comment – sometimes the words of strangers is what stick with me the most. Whether it be a kind word, an uplifting word or even a compliment, their words hold more truth to me than the words of a loved one. Simply because the stranger is not obligated to say anything nice to me, whereas my loved ones are at least to some degree.
I wouldn’t have said anything about his depression. If anything at all, I would have started a conversation about his school, the warm weather we were having, something, but nothing personal or intrusive. Sometimes people just need to know that they are visible to the world. That people see them and that they are not just breathing bodies walking alone.
you are right; I just wanted to give the other side of it.
Thank you for expanding 🙂
I do appreciate that! Truly.
I have had my life changed because of the words of one person these last weeks. I was going under in pain, and now I have hope and enough resolve to let go of the pain when it arises, and instead cherish the future and the life waiting for me there. 🙂
Because of your post, some of your readers will stop the next time they see that boy. Or any other person in pain, and give that word. Thank you for the reminder. ❤
I appreciate your comment. It’s good to hear that our compassion towards others can truly make a difference in their lives. I am so glad that person has given you hope and a reason to move forward in life. We all have stumbling blocks along the way, but we don’t always have someone there to pick us up. But you did and what a difference they made. That’s great news.