The Walk That Changed Our Lives

The Walk That Changed Our Lives

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Create Your Best Future

The Walk That Changed Our Lives

It can be hard to break the friendship code of secrecy and make your friend mad at you, but you must do what you feel in your heart is right.

~Amanda Ford

The closer we came to the counselor’s office, the more obvious it became that this walk would be one of the most important of our lives. It was one of the last days before school got out for the summer, and eighth grade was coming to an end. My friends and I were all thrilled. Everyone, that is, except our friend, Hannah.

It had started the previous summer, when Hannah had begun to keep to herself a lot. Whenever we would go out, she would insist on staying home by herself just to sit around. In fact, a lot of changes had come over Hannah ever since we had entered junior high. She obsessed about her weight, her complexion and how unpopular she was. She never seemed to focus on the good things she had to offer; it was always about what she didn’t have or what she was lacking. We were all concerned that something was very wrong, but at thirteen we didn’t exactly understand it or know what we could do to help her. Hannah seemed to be getting worse every day. She hated herself, and it was tearing our friendship apart.

Then one morning not long ago, Hannah came to school and told us she had almost committed suicide. She said she had thought about her friends and could not go through with it. We were in shock and had no idea what to do. Since she told no one else — not her parents or her sisters, just us — we tried to figure out what to do ourselves, feeling that no one else would understand. Though we didn’t want to stop being there for her, we couldn’t carry the burden by ourselves. We knew that if we made one wrong move, it could cost us our friend’s life.

We walked into the counselor’s office and waited for what seemed like an eternity until they called our names. We held hands as we walked in, each of us holding back tears. The counselor invited us to sit down, and we began to tell him about Hannah and all that had been going on. When we were finished, he told us that we had done the right thing. We waited as he called Hannah’s mother. We were overwhelmed with a million questions. What would Hannah say when she found out that we had told? Would her parents be mad at her for not telling anyone sooner? What was going to happen?

When Hannah’s mother arrived at school, she had obviously been crying and her face seemed full of questions. She began to ask about Hannah’s behavior and what she had told us. It was awful to tell her how Hannah had been alone at home one day testing knives to see if they were sharp enough to take her life. We all cringed at the thought of not having her in our lives today.

We learned later that after we had gone back to class, Hannah had been called down to talk to her mother and her counselor. It turned out she was relieved and grateful that she didn’t have to keep her secret any longer. She began counseling and has since gotten better. Since that day we are so grateful to see Hannah’s smiling face, or even to simply be able to pass her a note in the hallway between classes.

If we had not taken that long, horrible walk to the counseling office, we may not have been able to share high-school memories with Hannah. I know now that when we took that walk, it gave us the ability to give her the greatest gift of all… her life.

~Maggie McCarthy

More stories from our partners