3. Make sure someone has a reason to believe in miracles
Completed sometime during the autumn of 1991.
Most of the time, we underestimate how big an impact we can have on the lives of others.
It was Senior Night at the football game. Time for all the seniors to be specially recognized for their contributions before it was time for them to head off in their own directions.
As a member of my high school’s marching band (insert band geek joke here), I got to stand on the football field, shivering in the late autumn chill with the other senior band members, and have a carnation pinned to my band uniform during half time.
After the football game, there was the usual Friday-night dance in the gymnasium. I remember that a close friend of mine, Adam, had been especially quiet and moody for a couple months. He sat on the floor of the gym, leaning against the wall, brooding by himself.
We all knew that there was something wrong with Adam, but he wasn’t much interested in talking to any of us. He was downright rude when another friend tried to push him to talk. So we all left him alone and figured that he’d get over whatever was bothering him in time.
I felt bad for him. I went through some tough things in high school too. Sometimes it was hard to explain to anyone what was going on.
At some point during the dance, I went over and sat beside Adam on the floor of the gym and held his hand. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to make him mad. I didn’t want to make him talk. I just wanted him to know that I cared about him and was there for him. I sat there for a few songs. Then I took the carnation from my shirt and gave it to him. I kissed him on the forehead and went back to dancing with my friends.
I didn’t really think much about it. It didn’t seem like a big deal.
I didn’t find out until years later how much it meant to Adam.
It turned out that he had been brooding about suicide. He truly felt that awful about himself and about his life. Somehow, me handing him a carnation made him realize that he really did have something to live for.
When Adam told me about this, he had a hard time putting it into words. He tried to talk to me about it twice, and finally wrote me a letter that I treasure.
It was a simple gesture. It cost me nothing. I didn’t know how dark a place he was in and how much a pin prick of light would mean. I didn’t know it would turn his whole life around. By the time we got to school on Monday, Adam was his old self.
And that is how I gave Adam, and myself, a reason to believe in miracles.