I was 16 years old. My mother hated me, or so it seemed. She didn’t allow me to date or go anywhere with friends. I accused her of having kids just so we could do her work for her. I had an after-school job, but my mother drove me to work and back. Because my social life was so restricted, I had few friends, and they didn’t understand what my life was like. They all had boyfriends and went out every weekend. No one understood me. There was no reason for me to be alive.
I decided to end my life. What would I be missing? Nothing. And who would care if I were gone? Who would miss me? Not my mother. Not my teachers. My boss could find someone else to fill ice cream cones for him. So, not telling anyone, I made an unsuccessful attempt at suicide. I became even more upset and depressed over my failure.
I tried to go on as usual, but apparently my employer, Pete, noticed my continued depression and asked me what was wrong. I hadn’t expressed myself to anyone to this point, because no one had ever seemed interested. But he talked with me long enough for me to see that he did care, and soon I was telling him everything that was wrong in my life. He, in turn, told me about his youth, and how a break-up with a girl when he was in college caused him to consider suicide. But he only considered it; he didn’t attempt it. Instead, he finished college, found someone who was perfect for him, got married, had a beautiful family, and became a successful businessman.
For the first time I realized I wasn’t the only one who had been driven to such depths of despair. Pete made me see that things could change. He was right. I went to college. I became a high school teacher. I got married and had a beautiful son. I now have five grandchildren. I can’t imagine the world without those people in it!
I love teaching. I hope Pete realized what a difference he made, not only in my life, but in the lives of my son, my grandchildren, and the many students I have reached over the years. I often hear from former students who tell me how much I had helped them with their careers or what a positive influence I was on their lives. Sometimes their stories are so heartfelt that it drives me to tears. But mostly, when I think of how my life turned out and how happy I am today, I just smile.