I was at a bar a few years ago when I noticed a college student sitting in the back by the bathroom door. They were alone, but it looked as if they were happy about it. They wore expensive shoes and proud expression. The way they held their shoulders was intimidating. I think that's what made me want to talk to them even more.
I almost never try to start conversations with people, but for some reason I sat down across from the student and said, "Why are you smiling?"
They didn't seem surprised by the question at all. At first they smiled, but then responded with, "I've succeeded."
"I have a great job, a great group of friends, I have more money than I know what to do with, and I'm happy."
"You have a job? I'm sorry, it's just that I thought you were still a student."
"Well, what do you do?"
"Before college, I served three years in the military. I was in the navy. I went to college majoring in civil engineering and minoring in business. I then went on to starting up a home builder company which I have been running for five years."
"Military, eh? You must be strong. Did you play any sports in high school?"
"Yeah, actually. I made varsity as a freshman in basketball. I was obsessed."
I laugh, "We all were obsessed with sports in high school. That and girls."
"Ah, yes, and it doesn't change when you get older, either."
"Well, you sure do have a lot to be happy for."
"Thank you? It's the truth. You have money, friends--"
"No, really. Thank you. You're the first man I've met that hasn't made a sexist comment on my life when I tell them my story. You called me strong. I'd like to thank you for that."
"Then why do you keep telling them."
"I've got nothing to be ashamed of. I'm proud of everything I've done."
"Good," As I began to walk away, I turned around and said, "I really did mean it when I said you were strong. I'm proud of you too."
I know you've probably gotten hundreds of letters or emails written to you about your daughter from all of her friends or employees, but I would just like to tell you how amazing she was from someone who only had one conversation with her. When I read the paper this morning and found the article on your daughter's death, I started crying. I never cry. I don't cry when I watch sad movies. I don't cry when I break a bone. I didn't even cry when my brother died from a drunk driving accident.
So, why did I cry? I don't know. I think it's because she was one of the happiest people I have ever met. She accomplished more than any white man I have ever met.
She was happy, and happy people don't deserve to die.
Author Notes: This is my serious side...