One moment in time.That’s all it takes to solidify a person’s place in your heart; in your mind.
When I heard the news of my dear friend’s passing, I was cool. A lonely student, an almost-sophomore stuck on campus during the summer holiday, I was around people but isolated from those with whom I was closest. As it happens, I was just coming from the on-campus mail center on a day off from work, walking slowly through the deserted Science Center, when I got the call. I received the news – calm.
Shocked. Still moving. Get. Back. Home. Walk. Move.
I was just across the street from the dorm. I could see the courtyard and smell the cloves being smoked there. I was almost there; almost back to the dark stuffy room that would provide the quiet solitude that it always had. Almost there, when he saw me at the crosswalk. As I briefly struggled to rush past him, he asked what was up. Concerned. One moment passed. Then another. “SHE’S DEAD!” I cried at him. I keeled forward, careening toward the hot blacktop. At what felt like the last second, he caught me.
He didn’t tell me it would be ok. He told me he was there. He got me to the room – I still don’t know how. He sat, and talked, and didn’t talk, and gave me the advice his Mama would have given. He didn’t leave me alone when he shouldn’t have. He gave me space when I needed it. He rallied the troops at my job when I couldn’t. He was there when I needed to talk to someone who didn’t need me to be strong; who I wasn’t trying to impress with my facade of maturity. He wasn’t the only person to give advice, lend an ear, share stories. But he was the first. So, it doesn’t matter to me what he’s done or will do, good or evil. He is just a human being, as fallible as any, but in my mind, he will always be the first person who caught me.
I don’t think I’ve thanked him enough.
I’m doing it now.