The Girl in the Back of The Room.


There are days like today, when we look at what could have been and wonder why it didn’t happen. The state is in change and a little piece of me would like to be at the helm of that change.

Then, you see a name on Facebook that reminds you of why you do what you do. Her name I will not reveal because while she is important and her past is part of mine, her story is personal and not the point of this blog.

It was a speech at a graduation that started like so many others I did in my years in television.

A Little History:

A few years before that speech I had met a young woman who released buckets of tears from my eyes with her story of attempting suicide for a series I did on the subject.

We connected in an interesting sort of way and her story touched me so deeply.

I remember how much she cried during that interview. I can still see it like it was yesterday. I walked away from that interview thinking that is one heck of an amazing young woman.

I didn’t know she’d become a part of my life.

Back At Graduation

I’m standing in a little church trying to start my speech when I see a face in the crowd that is recognizable but I can’t place a name to the face. I remember how fixated I was on figuring out who she was.

I keep trying to start my speech but her face haunts me. “I know that face”: a small voice in my head keeps saying and my speech is not going well.

Standing in front of a packed house I stop the speech and say: “I can’t go on, I need to do something right now.”

It was then, at that very second God put her name on my tongue.

The audience looked a bit stunned and I saw no one in the room but her.

I looked her in the eye and said: “Mary (that’s not her name) we are so glad you are here to graduate with us.”

The tears started to flow and by this time I was crying, Mary was crying and the entire room had over-active tear ducts.

Everyone in town knew Mary. They knew her story and they had watched the process.

I went on to give what is probably one of my best talks ever. It was so real because it was happening right then and there. It was like God had parted curtains and Mary and Rick were having a private conversation and everyone else just got to be present.

After the speech I made my way to the back of the room and gave Mary and her child the biggest hug I could find in my soul.

Mary said to me: “I didn’t want to come today. I told my mom I didn’t want to be here. She told me Rick is speaking. I told my mom, he won’t remember me.”

I did remember Mary. I lost her name but God graciously gave it back to me just in time to rock a young woman’s world.

I am still in contact with Mary. I asked her if I could write this story because I needed to remind myself that change doesn’t always happen from the helm.

Change happens, life happens, when you stay connected to God, to His people and are ready and willing to go off script when He tells you “Now is the time.”

Mary, happy birthday, we are so glad you are still here with us. I’m so pleased that you were unsuccessful at your attempts to end your life and found success in living.