I still remember that day like it was yesterday. It may have been 10 years ago, but I can’t seem to get that image of you standing there in front of that wipe board out of my mind. Instead of passing out the quiz that had previously been scheduled for that day, you lingered at the front of the room. A combination of worry and defeat pulled at the corners of your mouth, but there was still a spark of hope in your eyes as you glanced around your classroom at all of us.
“Today, we are going off schedule. No quiz. I need to talk to you all about something very important.”
Your statement was met with obnoxious sighs of relief, excited murmurs, and high-fives among the 14-year-olds who were all too self-centered to pick up on the fact that something was very, very wrong. You just stood there patiently and waited for all of us to calm down before continuing.
You went on to explain that the night before, you had a very eye-opening phone conversation with your cousin who was 28-years-old, the same as you at that time. She and you had chosen two very different paths in life. She chose a life of drugs and partying, which eventually lead to children. You chose education, and eventually, a career. While you explained that it was possible to make all of the above choices and still lead a happy, successful life, that wasn’t the case for most people, including your cousin. Unfortunately, her choices resulted in a difficult life, full of worry and struggle that you wished you could help alleviate her from.
“Unfortunately,” you said, quoting Anaïs Nin, “You can’t save people. You can only love them.”
You proceeded to break down your cousin’s socioeconomic status, her bills, budget, and the self-destructive cycle that her life had become. You begged us to follow our hearts and our brains, and told us that every choice we made was a brick in the foundation of the paths that we were going to take. You told us that some of us might make all of the same choices as your cousin and still be okay, but you swore that the chances of ending up carrying around the same weight of the burdens and unhappiness as she did, wasn’t worth the risk. You told us to stay in school. You told us to keep you and your cousin and her life in mind with every sketchy choice that Life presented us with.
“I know I can’t save you guys,” you said, with a heavy heart, “But damn it, I can try.”
I largely blame you for the miracle of my choices that have lead me here, with an education rather than an addiction. Thank you for trying to save us. I know it came from a place of love. That love was the motivation that I needed.
for helping me