One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a new kid, from my class, Kyle, walking home from school. He could barely manage with all the books he was carrying.
I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.”
As I was continued walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran right into him, knocking him down, his books and his glasses went flying. They ran off, just as fast as they could.
I felt so bad for him. He was crawling around in the grass trying to find his glasses. I could see right where he glasses were and ran over to get them. When he looked up as I handed his glasses to him, I saw a deep sadness in his eyes.
I told him that “Those guys are jerks, they really should get lives.” He thanked me with a big smile. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.
I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said until this year, he had gone to a private school.
We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. My friends and I had a party and a football game planned for that weekend, so I invited him. We ended up hanging out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends felt the same way about him.
Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, "Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday! "
He just laughed and handed me half the books.
Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. I still teased him all the time about being a nerd…he was brilliant.
When we were seniors, we decided about college. Kyle would go on to Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.
Kyle was the valedictorian of our class. Being valedictorian, he had to prepare the speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak in front of everyone.
Graduation day came. Kyle looked great. He had really found himself during those 4 years we spent together. He was actually very handsome, smart, and a lot of fun, and looked pretty darn good in those glasse s. The girls were all crazy about him and he had had more dates than I had and sometimes I sure was jealous!
Today, I could see how nervous he was about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!”
He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled.
As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began…
"Graduation is a time to thank all those people who helped you make it through the tough times … your parents, your teachers, your coach, your family, your friends.
"I am here today, able to talk to you, because of a gift that was given to me four years ago. Kyle told the story of that Friday, four years ago, when I first met him, about the books and the kids knocking him over, and how a classmate had helped him, and invited him to a party and a football game.
What none of us knew, or could have known was that on that day, the first day I met him, he was planning to kill himself. He had cleaned out his locker and was carrying all those books home, so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later.
As he was telling his story, he looked directly at me and said that it was because of this very special person, who had helped him that day, he changed his mind.
I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment.
His Mom and Dad were looking right at me, also realizing what their son had just admitted and that I was the special friend he was talking about. They both had tears in their eyes. Not until that moment did I realise what I had done that Friday, four years ago.
This experience tells me that we must never underestimate the power of our actions.
That with one small gesture we have the power to change a person’s life. We can change a person’s life, for better or for worse. Make it for better.
“Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”