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A friend of my son’s is serving over in Afghanistan. He’s young, about 23, and he’s in peril every day. I can only imagine what he’s already seen, and I can’t help but think of my son in his shoes one day. It terrifies me.
I don’t know this young man except through email. My first intro to him was a request from my son that I send him a copy of my memoir when I was done. This seemed odd to me, given that I’ve always imagined my audience to be women, but it made him stick in my head, and I started sending him boxes of stuff I hoped would be helpful: razors, wet wipes, Q-Tips, books (of course!), and hygienic stuff.
It’s so easy and inexpensive to do, so I’ve wondered how adequate it really was. I’ve felt like I can’t send enough for it to make a real difference. Today I realized that this is far from the truth. I don’t know why that hit me today, but I’m glad it did because it feels good.
Here’s what I know: it doesn’t matter, really, how much you give, or how many people you can reach. One person is all that matters. I’m making a difference that feels small and inadequate on my end, but feels big on his end. It’s not about the gift but about the time and effort to go out of one’s way. And it’s about the human connection.
He’s on the other side of the world, and he knows that someone in the US thinks about him. Sure, there’s mom and family, but this is different. He doesn’t know me, yet there’s that box. A virtual stranger gives a shit that he’s alive.
This is good for me, too. I need to know that I make a difference somewhere, that I’m not just taking up space and oxygen that could be better used by someone who is making the world a better place.