In the summer I used to visit a pond to go fishing with my father, and to stare with bright eyes in wonder at the turtles there. Those were some of the best days of my life and I remember being filled with joy and happiness at the time. In the winter that pond froze over, and my family went out ice-skating, it was our little secret hide out that few in town knew about. That was back when we were still a family, before the divorce, before the bitterness and loneliness became a part of my life. I had such light in my life then, and aspired to be great, to make a difference. To be a hero, and save someone's life because that is what I taught to strive for growing up. Those dreams shattered, those ideals crumbled and my aspirations faded when my parents divorced and we moved away. I grew up lonely, isolated in school and at home. My mother's love was cold, almost nonexistent. My father left to clean up his life and I didn’t see him for another 11 years. I struggled to make it through my teenage years into adulthood, and with the help of a few amazing friends I did. Having had nothing else to inspire me I enlisted in the Army. I thought I could be of use there, and maybe just maybe be a hero. I held on to that one hope, it left a fire in me to stay alive and keep moving forward.
However, Life doesn’t go the way you want it too, and I found the Army just as cold as I did my mother. I never saved anyone, and I could barely keep my own head above water most days. I returned home a bitter man, a lost soul who kept wandering in the night. I thought I had been moving forward in my life, but I never did. I was frozen, unable to move forward and perpetually stuck in the past. Why couldn’t I ever feel like I did at that pond with my family? Why did the joy get sucked out of my life and drag me under the current of the waves? I couldn’t tell you why, I couldn’t understand what happened to my life when the divorce came. Somewhere along the way a biting cold that is bitterness reached into my heart and made it a frozen, desolate place. I had reached a point where I wanted to die, I had no purpose and failed to live up to my ideals I had in childhood. It was the dead of winter when I returned home, and I decided to go out to that pond one last time. I wanted to see if I could feel anything there or if my heart had become as frozen as that pond. So, I drove out, parked my car and walked through the trees in the dead of the night. The snow was light, fluffy and powdering the ground, leaving no trace of my footprints. I reached that pond and contemplated my life.
Truthfully, I contemplated ending my life there, but my higher power had different plans for me. I sat down on the bank and cried. No one could see me or hear me on this silent, winter night. I thought I was completely alone, but my higher power had sent someone there in the dead of night to find me. I watched closely as a figure appeared in the dark, walking across that frozen pond. Until I heard cracking, and heard a cry for help as they disappeared under the ice. I didn’t hesitate to rush across that pond, I only hoped I made it in time. I got to that hole and reached in to pull them out. It took all my strength not to get pulled in with them, but in the end, I had managed to lift them above the water. They were soaking wet and shivering so I lent them my jacket and brought them back to my car to warm up.
I asked them what in the world where you doing out there? They laughed and said I could ask you the same question. We spoke for what felt like hours as they told me their name, and their story. His name was John, and he had gone out there alone to kill himself, but he didn’t expect to fall in that frozen pond. Oddly enough we both had similar intentions, but my higher power placed me exactly where I needed to be when I needed to be there. He gave me a purpose, to save the life of another, to be the hero I had wanted to be growing up when I still had such hopes and dreams. As for John, his higher power had sent me there to save him, and let him know he wasn’t alone. That frozen pond on that beautiful winter night reignited the fire in both of us. I was able to realize I wasn’t a failure; I wasn’t alone and so did John. We saved each other that night, and I felt joy that night, joy that I was alive, and because I was alive, I was able to be the hero I had always wanted. I never did return to that frozen pond of my childhood, but it stayed as a constant reminder in my soul. It remained a fire strong enough to thaw out my own heart, and to light John’s way as well. We had gone out there to be forgotten, but we remembered what life could be.