I met K nearly four years ago in English 101. We sat next to each other next to the chalkboard, not wanting to mingle with all of the crazy freshmen (though I was one myself). He spoke first, all sorts of friendly. It was my first real school experience with an adult as a classmate. I’m not sure of his age, though he must be in his late thirties or so.
Every day he’d ask me how I was and if he could use my stapler. Of course it was a bit creepy at first, though I regret feeling this way, but soon I realized how sweet he really was and how hard he was trying.
K told me one day that his life wasn’t going so well. He was in his first year of college, ever. He’d left the blue collar field to come back for a degree. How admirable, I thought. Having a job, yet coming back to school to better yourself when there are so many easier options. He continued to tell me that he was divorced, and his son was only 7 and lived a few states away with his mother. K never got to see his son.
My parents are separated as well, and it really touched me that he was brought to tears over his son. I said some kind encouraging words, of which I cannot remember, and he thanked me and turned back to his desk. My heart ached for him ever since. I don’t know why his family was split up so, but I could feel the pain radiating like fire. I wanted to ask him about his son again, but every other class time he was too happy for me to bring him down again. Since that semester, I’ve seen him multiple times. He still remembers my name, though he did confuse me with someone else before. I always say Hi.
I saw K tonight walking out of his dorm as I dropped off my beau after dinner. It’s pretty chilly, and the wind has been blustering all day long. He wore shorts and a thin t-shirt and walked over by the dumpster to smoke a cigarette. It glowed solemnly in his hand. He stared out into the street. I waved as I drove by, though I’m not sure if he saw me or even knew who I was.
His mind was somewhere. Or perhaps it wasn’t; maybe he wasn’t thinking anything at all. I can only imagine what K could have been thinking at that moment: I wonder what my son is doing; I wonder if she read him a story; I wonder if she prayed with him tonight. What is he thinking? I don’t know K very well, and he may not be a wonderful father figure, but I do hope he gets to see his son as often as he possibly can so he can share that love with him.
Have you ever met someone who was so open to you that you were taken by surprise? Do you ever wonder what he or she is thinking at this very moment? How many others are going through hard times, but they just aren’t verbal about their needs?
Say a prayer for that person tonight.