This past week, someone from my school passed away after losing his battle with cancer. He was a freshman violin major – he was also only 18 years old.
Though I did not know him personally, the death still felt very close to me and all week, I had a lot of moments wherein I decided to let go of negativity – whether being anxious or upset over something – remembering that we all really only have such short times here, and we don’t have any spare time to dwell on things that make us feel bad.
But then I also happened to come across a beautiful yet heartbreaking post on Facebook, talking about another kind of death and dying, written by teacher Brittni Darras:
Two months ago was the first time I cried during parent/teacher conferences. A mom of a student who I have taught for two years showed up at my table with a list of her daughter’s teachers. Each one had “yes” or “no” written next to it. My name had a “yes” next to it, so she proceeded to explain to me the reason for her daughter’s extended absences. Her daughter – a friendly, intelligent, beautiful, driven, young woman – not only planned to commit suicide, but was in the act of doing so when the police got a Safe 2 Tell report, broke in, and stopped her. She had deleted her social media accounts and left goodbye letters; she was ready to leave the world. As her mom sat across from me, we both had tears streaming down our faces. Feeling helpless, I asked if I could write my student a letter to be delivered to her at the hospital; she said her daughter would love that. My student got the letter; her mom said that her daughter cried, turned to her mom and said, “How could somebody say such nice things about me? I didn’t think anybody would miss me if I was gone.” It made me realize that I was ay too close to losing another student to suicide. I spent the next 2 months writing cards to every one of my students – over 100 of them – telling each one what is special and unique about them. Suicide is growing to be more and more common, and I can’t help but to think that it’s a direct result of the pressure we put on these kids – to be successful, to fit in, to be the best in their class / sport / etc. We need to remember that each human being is unique, and that is what makes them special. Instead of trying to change it, we need to embrace it, because together, we can make a difference, and we can save lives! #suicideawareness
We can’t underestimate the power we all have, to either make or break another person’s day. We rarely know everything another person is going through when we encounter them, so let us all choose to go on the safe side, for their sake and our’s – let us choose to smile more, judge slower or not at all, and be more patient. Your good word to a person may be what convinces them to try out one more day and hang on. The world needs more smiles, is it really that hard to do it more often? Take that one minute to text the friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or write someone a nice little note. It takes so little to make another happy and know they are important to us, why aren’t we doing it more often?
As a little side note, I once heard from a Torah class that in Judaism, there is a concept that if you smile at someone you encounter first, you get the “mitzvah,” something like one point for heaven. Why? Because when you smile at someone, they will most probably smile back and who can smile without feeling a little cheerier afterwards? You get a “heaven point” for brightening someone’s day.
So as I end this, here’s my smile for you 🙂 Let’s all spread smiles this week, and spread more happiness in others’ lives, and ours. 🙂