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Sam, I met you in the first grade.

I wonder if you remember, as vividly as I do, when I came into your class as the new kid in October and the first thing you did was share your Cheetos with me. Although I was just a foreign boy whom you had just met, you showed me so much kindness on my first day of school that I couldn’t wait to go back the next day. I’ll never forget how that simple gesture dissolved my anxiety and how grateful I was to have found a friend so quickly.

Although I could barely speak English, you understood me so well. We spoke a common language called friendship and you helped me develop a sense of security and belonging in this unfamiliar culture. You and your friends ate with me during lunchtime; you invited me to play freeze tag by the playground; you cried with me over scraped knees and elbows. You made me believe that if we all had a Sam in our lives, everyone would be happy.

When I moved away in the third grade and began attending a different school, I realized that there were far fewer Sams in this world as I had hoped. Instead, there were Zacks who pushed Matthews into lockers, Laurens who sat alone during lunch, Olivias who made other Olivias cry, and too many Peters, Stephanies, and Jefferys who just watched it all happen. In my naïveté, I wondered why my new classmates sometimes did so little to make each other happy.

I missed you Sam; no one shared their Cheetos with me.

Sam, I’m eighteen now and I’m old enough to know that not everyone gets along with everyone else all of the time. I’ve also realized that I was in the wrong for not having taken greater action to cultivate friendship and good spirits among my friends and others around me—it’s made me appreciate your amazing and selfless capacity for compassion even more. Despite my failures, I still believe that if each of us can be kinder to those around us and take time to understand each other a little better, we can all learn to speak the same language that you and I had spoken in first grade. There may be 6,909 ways to say “friendship” around the world, but the sounds that each of us make while eating Cheetos with the people we care about always resonate in my ears in the same beautiful way.

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GeenaElise said...
Feb. 3, 2013 at 4:17 am
Wow this is amazing. I love it. It is very touching, well done :)
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