I still remember every detail like it happened yesterday.
I woke up. It was around 4pm in the late afternoon, early evening. During those days, I was really depressed and I didn’t do anything except stay up all night thinking about how much my life sucked, followed by sleeping all day having nightmares about how much my life sucked.
As I got up off the couch, the first thing I did was go out to the mailbox. Not that I was expecting any decent mail, but when you back-owe bills and other forms of debt, you kind of have to at least check and see what reminders they’re sending you.
When I opened the front door, something caught my eye. I looked down and noticed that a morning newspaper had been placed on my doorstep.
“Like I need to worry about the world’s problems and mine”, I thought to myself. I step over it and leave it on the doormat.
I get to my mailbox, open it up, and pull out about 10 pieces of mail. Some of it’s junk mail. The majority of it is things like “Parasitic Assholes Debt Collections LLC” trying to reach out to me. Fantastic way to the start day, right?
I get back to my door. As I do, I again notice the newspaper sitting there.
“Can’t really just let these pile up, I guess.”
I pick it up and bring it inside with every intention of throwing it in the trash immediately.
I shut the front door behind me. I toss the mail up onto the kitchen counter as I’m walking towards the bin. I approach the trash can, and as I step on the pedal to open the lid, I did something I wouldn’t normally do.
“Well, I don’t have shit-else to do today. I might as well read the paper a bit.”
Honestly, I figured that there just might be something in there that would at least brighten my day, or give me some sliver of hope. Something. Anything.
The one thing I definitely didn’t expect was that I would find within it something that would end up absolutely changing my life forever.
No, I take that back. It did more than that.
It actually saved my life.
I sat down on the couch, took the saran wrap-like covering off the paper, and opened up to the front page. This is what I see immediately in big, bold letters:
I chuckle to myself.
“Fucking perfect. Just what I was hoping for.”
I flip to the next page on the inside of the newspaper. All I see is article after article talking about businesses that have collapsed, how low the employment rate is, and how the economy is in a complete tank. As if I needed another reminder. It was because of the tanked economy that my business essentially collapsed just a few months after I started it.
I had the urge to throw it away. My idea of finding inspiration had completely backfired. There was nothing but loads of sad, frustrating, depressing stories.
I decide to give it one more go, and I turned to the third page of the paper.
Immediately, there’s a picture that catches me eye.
It’s the face of a young man with a smile so incredibly bright and infectious that, despite my depression and my horrible state of being, I feel this sudden burst of good feeling ooze through my body.
“What the……..what’s this about?” I wonder to myself.
I start to read the story. It goes like this:
The young man in the picture is a guy named Guichard. He’s a 19 year old student at a local college in town where I live called Edison State College. Guichard and his mother had relocated to the US from Haiti, and they did it through incredible hardship. Guichard’s mom worked as a cleaning lady at a local hospital. Guichard, when not in school, helped take care of his 5 other younger siblings………as well as his own 2 year-old son.
Guichard was an exceptional student. He was well known throughout the school, was the leader of the school’s HOPE (Help One Person Excel) Scholar’s Club, and he was recently voted student body class president as a freshman. “Gucci” everyone called him. On top of all those things, he had bright future. Since he was such an exceptional student, he had many job and career opportunities lined up for him once he got out of school.
He was a well-liked, hard-working, selfless, unbelievably persistent, dedicated, and passionate person. He was someone who had come through unbelievably hard circumstances in Haiti and had helped his family relocate to the US. He was someone with a bright future. He was someone who had the world at his feet.
It was around 7:00am Monday morning. Guichard was driving his mother to drop her off at work before he headed out to school for the day. As they get to an intersection, Guichard loses control of the 1995 Chevy Lumina he was driving. He spun out into the middle of the intersection. A Jeep coming from the opposite direction slammed into the passenger’s side of Guichard’s car.
“Both Guichard, and his mother, died instantly.”
When I read that line, I slowly looked back over at the picture of that bright, talented, smiling young man.
I completely lost it.
I buried my face in my hands, got down on my knees, put my head to the floor, and immediately started crying my eyes out.
Why did it hit me so hard?
The reason is because, just literally the day before, I had seriously thought of the different ways I could kill myself. I was sick of my life. I was sick of struggling. I hadn’t had anything decent to eat in weeks. I had no money. My parents had just recently divorced, so I had no close family. I had lost everything. I had no foreseeable future. I hated everything about who I was, where I was at, and where things were going. I just wanted it all to end.
But……………………….when I read that kid’s story about how much he’d gone through, how promising his life was, and when I read about his tragic, untimely death, and most importantly when I saw that picture of him smiling with a smile that showed just how alive he felt, how happy he looked, and how excited about his own future he was, something inside me just snapped.
As I buried my head onto the floor and drenched tears into my hands, a voice inside my head immediately started talking to me.
“How fucking dare I. How fucking DARE I.”
“How fucking DARE I sit here and feel sorry for myself like this. How fucking DARE I sit here all day, not doing a damn thing but sleeping. How fucking DARE I sit here and waste my life, my ability, and my talent. How fucking DARE I make myself into a victim. How fucking DARE I sit here and think about taking my own life.”
“I should be the one dead. Not him. He deserves to be here. What have I done to deserve to?”
Did he feel sorry for himself when he was in Haiti, dreaming of coming to the US to make a better life? Did he sit around all day not doing a damn thing? Did he waste his life, his abilities, and his talents? Did he ever consider taking the easy, cowardly way out by taking his own life and ending it all?
He didn’t feel sorry for himself. He persisted through it all and made his way to the US for a better life for him and for his family.
He didn’t sleep all day. He went to school, got out there, and paved the path for a brighter future.
He didn’t waste his talents, his abilities, and his life. He put them to action. He lived them. He embodied them. He shared them.
He didn’t even get to decide his own fate. He didn’t even get to live out his dreams. He wasn’t even given a choice. Everything he came from, everything he was, and everything he was going to be was taken from him. Everything he ever envisioned himself being, everything he ever wanted to accomplish, and everything he ever intended on showing the world had vanished in one single moment.
I never felt so ashamed of myself in all my life. In that moment, I realized how truly pathetic I had become. I realized just how far I ALLOWED myself to fall.
I allowed myself to fall victim to poisonous circumstances, poisonous thoughts, and poisonous feelings. I allowed myself to become depressed. I, me, and no one else was responsible for the massive disappointment that was my life up until that point.
I started thinking to myself some more.
“What would he think of me if he was looking at me right now? Would he feel sorry for me? Would he pity me? What would he say to me? Would he tell me to just give up, do nothing, and throw it all away?
Or, would he tell me this:
“Will, get up off your ass and go live your life! NOW!”
From that moment on, I’ve had a fire lit inside me every single day.
Sure, I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve had my moments where I doubted myself, felt incredible amounts of fear, and stumbled. I still do at times.
However, whenever I come across a challenge, when I think things are difficult, when I feel like taking it easy, when I feel like skipping a day of working out, when I feel like giving less than I’m capable of on my work, when I feel like missing out on something, when I feel like I’m too angry at a friend to speak to them again, and when I feel like I’ve reached my limit, I immediately picture Guichard’s face. I see him smiling back at me from that newspaper. It gives me power. It gives me inspiration. It makes me want to keep going. It pushes me on.
It makes me think to myself that I’m responsible for not only creating my life, my visions, and my dreams, but I’m also responsible for living his. He’s not here anymore. He deserves to be, but he isn’t. I have to live for both us. I have to go out and be absolutely everything that I can, because in my mind, I have a responsibility to do it.
He didn’t even know me. We never met each other. We’ve never spoken one single word to one another.
But the fact is, he saved my life. And, I’m going to do everything I possibly can to make sure that I live the kind of life that I know I’m capable of and that I’m meant to. I won’t ever give up. I won’t ever stop moving. I’ll always keep trying to live out my dreams, live happily and lovingly, and become the best version of myself that I possibly can. I have to. I owe him. And, I don’t want to disappoint him.
I know I’ll make him proud.