How to save a life

There are days when you can barely manage to get through the day. It makes you wonder about the futility of living. But then it might be worthwhile to remember that just by being yourself, reaching out to others, you can make a difference.

Whenever I need a reminder of the power of one person, I remember Elaine.

As a kid, I was a loner. It didn’t help that we shifted to France, a whole new country, when I was in first grade. The cold, the loneliness, the lack of belonging…they remain fresh in my mind even after all these years.

One day, in second grade, at the American School of Paris, I was made to stand outside for talking in class. That’s when I met Elaine. Her office was opposite my classroom. She was involved in the administration of the school and had a huge computer (all computers looked gigantic in those days).

She took out time to ask me my name, my grade and what I had done. While she gently admonished me, she also let me sit in her office for some time.

After that day, I would often drop by her office and we would chat about studies, family and life. She treated me like I was a grown-up, and listened to everything I had to say giving fair advice. She gave me the courage to face each day.

Elaine left after a year, but she left me a farewell gift – a tartan notebook and a wall hanging of a window frame. I think it was symbolic of what I would choose to do in life – write and view the world from different perspectives. I still have the notebook though the window frame has been lost to time.

The next time you meet someone who seems lost, just reach out to them. Who knows, you might just be able to save their life.

Thank you Elaine. I will never forget you.


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