I remember walking my younger brother home from school when I was a child. He loved rocks, and I mean loved. He would fill each of his pockets to the brim. Some days, he would collect so many rocks he would have to resort to using his shirt. He would lift the end of his shirt up and tighten his grip with one fist, exposing his small torso to the sun, and then pile rocks in with the other. He would literally weigh himself down with these rocks, because he saw beauty in these tiny pieces of minerals and earth.
I tried to forget.
One day, while we were walking home, Kristopher slowly trudged behind me – gathering rocks. Suddenly, something took over me, I spun around and yelled at him because I thought he was moving too slowly. Misguided, yet honest anger aimed directly at him from my lips, like acid fire. I had a bad day at school, and I was impatient. It was as if I somehow forgotten that the person I spoke to was someone I loved so deeply.
I regretted it the minute it came spewing from my mouth. His fist that was holding his mineral filled shirt, let go. I watched as his collection and hard work fell to the floor. He was devastated. On that day, he did not get the satisfaction to experience the weight of his love. I took that from him.
Here was this innocent child, gathering rocks, and there I was -flustered and upset because he was enjoying himself and I had a bad day.
At the time, I saw this as just “some shitty thing I did”.
Now I see.
Though this memory makes me feel sick to my stomach, it’s important to me. This shows me that I am human. This makes me understand that people can be so unintentional with their words to others. This gives me hope that maybe others know that feeling of regret. That maybe they’ll stop before they try and take pieces away from people.
Pieces of their innocence, their joy, their youth. Confidence. Wonder.
That maybe, just maybe, they realize that every person is this small child with rocks in their pockets. That everyone has someone who loves them, and that everyone already has to deal with the hardest critic, themselves.