A Simple Gesture


DISCLAIMER: This story is about suicide:

I remember when Chicken Soup for the Soul came out. I was obsessed. That and Jesus Freaks. (Saw them in concert once WAHOO!) Each story hit me in a way other stories hadn't. Considering I love to read, that says a lot. Almost everyone has some Chicken Soup story that they remember. After all the books have been endless. Chicken Soup for the Romantic, Chicken Soup "What I Learned From a Cat", and of course who doesn't remember the Chicken Soup for the Teen: Tough Stuff.

My Favorite comes from the very first book though. Chicken Soup for the Soul Vol 1

A Simple Gesture is about a boy who notices another boy who is carrying a lot of items. Things were falling all over the place so he helped him carry them. They found out a lot about each other and that day they became friends. Many years past and the boy with all the times tells the one who helped him that he saved him so many years ago because he was on his way home to commit suicide.

This is another story that framed my life. You never know what someone else is going through. You don't know if their parent died, if they got a flat tire, if someone else was rude to them. Our actions influence everyone. Smile when you don't feel it to a stranger, buy that person behind you a coffee (or don't, no pressure), and call that friend you haven't heard from in awhile, because what if that simple gesture changes everything?

A Simple Gesture

Mark was walking home from school one day when he noticed
the boy ahead of him had tripped and dropped all of the
books he was carrying, along with two sweaters, a baseball
bat, a glove and a small tape recorder. Mark knelt down and
helped the boy pick up the scattered articles. Since they
were going the same way, he helped to carry part of the
burden. As they walked Mark discovered the boy's name was
Bill, that he loved video games, baseball and history, and
that he was having lots of trouble with his other subjects
and that he had just broken up with his girlfriend.
They arrived at Bill's home first and Mark was invited
in for a Coke and to watch some television. The afternoon
passed pleasantly with a few laughs and some shared small
talk, then Mark went home. They continued to see each
other around school, had lunch together once or twice,
then both graduated from junior high school. They ended
up in the same high school where they had brief contacts
over the years. Finally the long awaited senior year came
and three weeks before graduation, Bill asked Mark if they
could talk.
Bill reminded him of the day years ago when they had first
met. "Did you ever wonder why I was carrying so many things
home that day?" asked Bill. "You see, I cleaned out my locker
because I didn't want to leave a mess for anyone else. I had
stored away some of my mothers sleeping pills and I was going
home to commit suicide. But after we spent some time together
talking and laughing, I realized that if I had killed myself,
I would have missed that time and so many others that might
follow. So you see, Mark, when you picked up those books that
day, you did a lot more, you saved my life."
-John W. Schlatter (true story)