If You Come Softly, Part II

“And the rich between us shall drink our tears”

The most vivid instant message I can remember ever getting was senior year of college. It was the same year I thought that I could save someone from drowning and come back ashore unscathed. I was wrong, and I was marked, am marked by the tragedies of that year. On that night I remember receiving the message from my close friend pop up on my screen saying that he had come to the decision that life and living was not for him, and he was going to put an end to it, but he needed to know that I was going to be okay. Immediately I was frantically pulling on clothes and begging my roommate to come with me make sure that what I could never be okay with did not take place. My friend ended up being okay, and although there were rough patches on the road, he got the help he needed and the support he needed, and he made it. And I always tried to check in with him, remaining a listener and an observer on the journey.

I remembered this story because a student of mine came to me the other day and tried to come into class extremely late. I got annoyed and told her she would have to get another pass to get into class. The security guard brought her back, and I sighed and went outside to see what was wrong. She then told me she was in the bathroom sick all morning from the anxiety that has slowly started eating away at her daily routine this year. I instantly softened and asked her why she did not just say that to me. She replied, “I thought you would have gotten tired of me. Tired of my problems.” How could I ever grow tired of helping someone I love? But that’s what people think. They think their problems become the burdens of loved ones, without pausing to realize that the person’s love will lead them to want to be there for them in any way that they could.

Today I passed by the desk of one of my students who had written a suicide note that I had found in his homework assignment. It had been the day of my birthday dinner, and the starkest memory remains myself and that student standing on the steps of his home. I cried while I told him that I knew he was mad at me for telling others about this, but that I could live with that because if he were to hurt himself he would be hurting so many other people who loved him deeply. And today when I walked passed his desk I saw that he was reading a book: God’s Promise, for Every Day Life. I felt as though it was a sign for me and a sign from him as well.

I think he is going to be okay.

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