Be there for the Notre Dame family
David Loughery | Monday, September 24, 2012
Last night, I walked past a fellow student, perched precariously on a bench outside the Grotto, head held in his hands, quietly mourning something or someone. I slowed down, just a bit and thought that, if he looked up with red-rimmed eyes, if he acknowledged my presence, I might stop, ask if he’s alright, if he’d like some silent company or needs someone with whom he can talk for a moment or two. He didn’t look up, and I didn’t dare put myself out there and tap him on the shoulder. I was fresh out of the gym, wet and itchy and increasingly cold, hoodie notwithstanding, and besides, I’m an agnostic. I was there only because a friend who isn’t could use a prayer or two right now, even from someone who doesn’t know if he’s talking to anyone in particular. Now I wish I had.
I have no idea if he needed or wanted me around. For all I know he might have angrily ordered me on my way, but I didn’t ask. I really should have asked. As my time here draws rapidly to a close, I find myself more and more dwelling on the phrase “Notre Dame family.” It’s not something I paid much attention to for a long time. I had my friends, I had my classmates and I interacted outside of those two circles as necessary or as entertaining. Now, though, I come to realize that I have quite a bit more in common with the rest of my school than I do with the vast majority of the rest of humanity, some of my own family members included. No one ever demanded that I personally come to know every one of my classmates or teachers, but perhaps it’s worth it, once in a while, to put yourself out there, especially if you see that a member of your family, biological or not, might be in need of help you can offer.
So, as for my brother (that was awkward, maybe the Notre Dame family only entitles us to be cousins, or something?), I’m sorry I said nothing, that I walked right by with no more effort than was required to slow down. I can offer as an excuse only the fact that it’s a lot easier to build up walls between my life and yours, to keep your problems at bay, than it is to tear them down and let your problems into my life. Next time I see you, or someone like you, I’ll try to make myself stop, at least long enough to ask if you need help. Maybe, at least, knowing someone thought of you, however briefly, might offer some solace. Still, I am sorry I didn’t stop and ask if you needed a family member to be by your side for a while.