* Just an FYI I don’t want to upset anyone so feel free to skip this post. This is about suicide.
A young woman stood and spoke.
“I don’t know what to say. I guess I’ll just say ‘thank you.’ I remember you because you sat next to me in grammar school. All the other kids were laughing at me. I knew I was a dorky kid. I didn’t fit in and all the girls at the lunch table told me so. I tried to sit down and they wouldn’t let me, so I sat by myself. I felt like crying. When I saw you get up from where you were sitting with your friends I thought, ‘oh great someone else to pick on me.’ You sat down next to me and asked ‘How much does a polar bear weigh?’ and all I could think was ‘go away!’ I didn’t even answer you because I was afraid to cry and I was sure you were there to make fun of me, but instead you said, ‘…just enough to break the ice. Hi , my name is Derek.’ I don’t think you even knew my name the whole rest of that year, but you always made sure to say ‘hi,’ and to make sure no one was picking on me, and they didn’t, thanks to you. It may seem small, but you changed my life. I will never forget you.”
Derek “the Mole” was my favorite of my nephew’s friends. They all grew up in each other’s homes. Each of our homes were their “home away from home.” It was a special time, watching the kids you love grow into men. Each had their own unique quirks, strengths, and personalities. Derek was kind, polite, quiet and understated. He was the champion for the weak. Barely four feet tall, what he lacked in stature, he made up for in so many other ways. Like most of his friends he was very large in personality, in heart, sincerity.
Unlike them, Derek chose to end his life this week. I don’t know if he didn’t realize what he meant to everyone, or if he was blinded by whatever demons he was battling. I’m not sure if it matters any longer. I would like to think that he knew he mattered. That he would be surprised to think that he was still connected to distant acquaintances such as myself. I can’t imagine he realized that through a long forgotten act of compassion and courage, he had changed a young woman’s life. I doubt he knew how much he personified the fact that circumstance is nothing without choice.
It breaks my heart to think of his despair. I pray he is at peace. I hope that he knows that although it was short, he chose to live a life that mattered.