One day, when I was a freshman
in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school.
His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books.
I thought to myself, "Why would anyone bring home all his books on a
He must really be a nerd." I had quite a weekend planned (parties
and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged
my shoulders and went on.
As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him.
They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping
him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them
land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this
terrible sadness in his eyes.
My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he
crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye.
As I handed him his glasses, I said, "Those guys are jerks.
They really should get lives." He looked at me and said, "Hey
thanks!" There was a big smile on his face. 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 he had gone to private school before
now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before.
We talked all the way home, and I carried his books. He turned
out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football
on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes.
We hung out together all weekend and the more I got to know
Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of 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. When
we were seniors, began to think about college. Kyle decided on 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 valedictorian of our class.
I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech
for graduation. I was so glad it wasn't me having to get up there and
Graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those
guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and
actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than me and all the
girls loved him.
Boy, sometimes I was jealous. Today was one of those days. I
could see that he was nervous 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. "Thanks,"
As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began.
"Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through
those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe
a coach... but mostly your friends.
"I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone
is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story."
He began to tell the story of the first day we met. I looked
at him in disbelief as he began to share the details of that day.
He told us how he had planned to kill himself over that weekend.
He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn't have
to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me
and gave me a little smile.
"Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the
unspeakable." I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome,
popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his Mom and
Dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile.
Not until that moment did I realize the power and depth of what
I did. The impact of a simple decision to help someone in a time of
need saved the life of someone who in turn had an enormous impact on
Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small
gesture you can change a person's life for better or for worse.
Call it a miracle, call it Christmas, call it Hanukah or just
call it a time to remember the value of life and how much our actions
mean to those around us.
In order to have Friends, we first
need to be a Friend.
Copyright © 1996-2004 Gar Benedick
All Rights Reserved.