It was late afternoon on a spring day in 1969. I had gotten permission to go to the library after school on order to work on a project that was due in a few days.
I finished my research, and I was waiting on the library steps for my mother to pick me up. As a 13 year old, I felt really ugly. I was overweight and overdeveloped physically for my age, but I was still very immature. I was one of those people that seemed to attract the harassment of the other children. The other girls were beginning to date, wear makeup, and to be interested in boys and rock music. I still wanted to climb trees and play with my dolls. I just didn't seem to fit in anywhere, and I became very lonely.
On this particular day, I was feeling extremely depressed. The pain of being who I am became unbearable, and, while I still managed to go through the motions of the day, I had made up my mind that I was going to end my life.
As I waited for my mother, my thoughts turned to how I was going to do it. What method would I use? I didn't know; I just knew that I wanted out of this life.
Oddly, something inside me made me look down the street. A strange looking man came into view. He was about my height. He had a head full of dark, curly hair and a full beard. His clothes were rather plain; he wore a pair of torn khaki pants and a loose muslin shirt that was tied at the waist by a rope. And he was barefoot. He reminded me of Saint Joseph. I also noticed that he was carrying something in his hand that seemed to have all of his attention, and he was smiling.
As he came closer, I noticed that the thing that he was smiling at was a rose. When he came to where I was standing, he stopped. He looked me straight in the eyes and smiled so wide that I could have counted his teeth. He put the rose up to my face, and he said, "Isn't it beautiful?"
It was perfect. It was in full bloom, and it was the largest, reddest flower that I have ever seen. It was very fragrant, and, as the fragrance wafted up, my spirit rose up with it. The dark clouds that hung over my heart dissipated in the sunshine of that man's brilliant smile.
"Yes, it is beautiful," I said, and I smiled back at him. He turned and went on his merry way. In my newfound joy, I raised my arms and spun around. In the instant that it took for my little dance, the man disappeared.
I don't know who that man was. I don't know if he was an angel, or if he was just a man that happened to be in the right place at the right time. But I do know that he saved my life that day.
I wish I could say that this was the end of all my troubles, but the years have never been kind to me. I still often feel like a misfit, or like someone who just wasn't ever meant to be accepted into polite society. But, throughout my life I have survived because of such small reminders that God created us all, and that everything He created is beautiful. And I will always be grateful to a man who looks like Saint Joe and his one, perfect rose.
Copyright © 2005 Vanessa KristovichSend us your comments on this article