Behind a Smile

April 2, 2013
Appearance acts as a blanket covering up the secrets locked behind closed doors. On a daily basis we scan hundreds of faces making instant judgments on looks alone. However, would opinions change if we knew what horrors hid within a forced smile? Even if you may not know their story, you begin to look at people differently just by realizing everyone has one.

The truth is, we all judge others, and unfortunately, that may never change. Although, the way we judge them is in constant fluctuation. For example, the first thing that pops into my mind when seeing a younger child is that they possess no worries, doubts, or regrets. Expectation over rules reality and I think a child’s life must be incredibly easy. That opinion instantaneously shattered when a young boy proved me wrong.

Back and forth my body gently swayed on top of a bright, yellow swing at a summer graduation party. My eyes were glued to the unknown six-year-old boy beside me, who was also swinging, but in a different way. His hands tightly grasped two yellow handles and he pumped his body vigorously, propelling his feet to the sky. Knowing I was watching, he dismounted as gracefully as he could, even attempting to stick the landing. Being a gymnast myself, I was indeed impressed. Part of me, however, was jealous his landings were not currently being precisely watched to determine his college scholarship fate.

Abruptly, he pointed his finger to the sky and asked if I knew where his daddy was. The randomness of the question caught me off guard and I shook my head to indicate I was completely clueless. I figured his dad was a pilot or maybe even an astronaut. It was his head’s turn to shake when my assumption was incorrect. Again, he pointed at the sky. “My daddy is in heaven.”

Paralyzed with shock, the swing instantly froze in its place and my mouth dropped open in surprise. Tears began to collect in my eyes, threatening to fall. A second ago, his happiness soared with his body, but reality brought him back down to Earth. My mind flashed with ways to comfort him, but I ultimately did nothing but helplessly sit there. More than anything, I wanted to say, “Everything will be okay, I know how you feel. My daddy is in heaven too.” Instead, I mumbled a quick apology and shifted my gaze away from the boy to keep myself from crying.

From personal experience, I knew his life right now was anything but easy. Mentally, I scolded myself for ever thinking differently. From the beginning, I should have been his immediate friend, someone who he could confide in. For I have been in his shoes, and at that point, a friend is all someone could ever ask for.

Now, when I look at someone, I see an untold story, rather than just the clothes they may be wearing. With each story, there needs to be someone every step of the way ready to lend a helping hand when the time calls for it. From that day on, I promised myself that l will be that open minded friend. Everyone has their story, what's yours?

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