You Don’t Have To Wait To Make a Difference

April 7, 2015

Mariah Kennedy, mother of Andrew Kennedy:

He’s always wanted to make a difference in the world.” 

Mrs. Kennedy started, a slight trembling in her voice. “I don’t think he quite understood that he didn’t have to wait… he didn’t have to wait for something big to make that difference. He didn’t— We—” She stopped there, sobbing on her husband’s shoulder.

Michael Burk, friend: “Andrew didn’t have a whole lot of friends when we were in high school. He always kept to himself. The ‘loner’ type.”

Tara, Elizabeth, and Ryan Kennedy, siblings: Elizabeth: Andrew always helped me with my homework. Especially English. He was really good with writing papers. Ryan: … Tara: *crying*

2 weeks earlier…

Andrew sat on the couch in the living room. He was staring off into space again. When did he ever not? He’d misplaced his headphones again, so he had to suffer with his thoughts until he could sleep. Currently, the clock is ticking at 4:58 p.m, so he didn’t have room yet for an excuse to go to bed early.

What did you do today? You’re a fool, Andrew. A useless, boring fool, he thought to himself.

No, you’re not a fool. You’re not useless, and you’re not boring. Knock it off! “Andrew?” His mother’s voice sounded from the kitchen, interrupting his thoughts before that train got too far.

What was it about his family that blessed them with nearly perfect timing? “In the living room, Mom,” he answered. He watched as she poked her blonde head through the doorway connecting the two rooms.

I’m making dinner. Would you come take the trash out and switch the laundry, please, she asked?

In all honesty, he really didn’t even want to get up. But you know, Mom is Mom.

She was way too nice to him and his three younger siblings sometimes, so he couldn’t refuse her. “Coming,” he replied. As he rose from the couch, Andrew glanced at the clock which now read 5:02; only four minutes from the last time he looked. “How annoying”, he thought. He went straight to the trash can once he’d set foot in the kitchen. It was the quicker of the two chores and he wanted to get it out of the way before he touched the washing machine. As he walked to the garbage can just outside of the back door, the usual negativity hit him. Seeing the bag fall into the trash can seemed to scream “You’re useless!” at him.

He walked back inside. Positivity and pessimism battled inside his brain until he felt like he’d fall down screaming, but he’d never let it show. Having completed the chores, Andrew began his retreat to the isolation of his bedroom—ah, the peace and quiet of lonely inner insanity—when he was stopped by his father in the hallway. “Andrew,” his dad began, “would you do me and your mother a favor and run to the store? I forgot to buy a couple of things for dinner while I was out.

I really don’t want to go out, Dad . Don’t make me go out among people, Andrew thought.

Sure, Dad. What do you need me to get, Andrew asked?.

The response he received came in the form of his dad handing him a list.

The two food items plus three other things we need around here, stated Mr. Kennedy, Twenty bucks should cover it.

All right, Dad. Be back in a few, said Andrew

With that, he made his way out the front door and to his car, money pocketed and list in hand. As he wended his way through the streets of his hometown, he thought to himself.

What are you going to do, Andrew?

You want to make a difference somehow, don’t you?

What are you going to do to make it reality?

This train of thought nagged at him and was turning downbeat real quick. He needed a distraction fast. Turning on the radio, he flicked through the stations, but ended up turning it off again. Sadly, there was no good music to be heard on this car ride. Ten minutes later, he was pulling into the first parking space he saw in the FoodsCo parking lot. The lot was only half filled with cars, so it wasn’t too bad. Andrew made his way to the entrance of the store and began the hunt for the items on his dad’s list. They were easy enough to find: Carrots and onions in the same aisle; hand soap, a card for Aunt Lorraine, and a couple bottles of Windex. Once he had the items in hand, he sauntered back to the front and stood in the shortest line.

If you want to make a difference, then make a difference. It’s not that hard to get off your lazy bottom and go do something. There’s the never ending down put. No one cares. They’re not going to notice anything until you do something news-worthy.

He mentally slapped himself. He could already hear his friends Michael and Ada. “Stop being so mean to yourself, Andy,” Ada would say. Then Michael would chip in.

Yeah, man. You wanna make a difference, you go make a difference. It doesn’t matter how big or how small it is; even if it’s just putting a smile on a stranger’s or friend’s face. Differences don’t have to be major.

He paid for the items he was holding and left the store. Strolling to his car again, the only thought now on his mind was to get out of there and go home. He didn’t want to be in this place any longer than necessary. But what happened next made him throw that to the wind. It started with a scream. Andrew spun around to locate where it had come from. Running away from the FoodsCo entrance and through the parking lot was a man who looked to be at least in his mid-thirties. He didn’t really care about that. What really drew his attention to the man was the little girl who was struggling in his arms. She couldn’t have been any older than five. He saw the mother running behind, but she was quickly losing them. “Emily!” the woman yelled. “Mommy!” shrieked the little girl. And it was her scream that sprung Andrew into action. He didn’t even think about it. He just knew that if he didn’t start running now, there was every possibility that that scared mother would lose her daughter forever. His feet carried him toward the running man with the little girl, and soon he found himself standing in the man’s path. “Put the girl down,” he commanded, feeling very much more like a coward than he sounded. The girl—Emily—continued to struggle, but had now turned her tear-filled eyes on him.

The man glared at him. “If you know what’s good for ya, kid, get outta my way,” he sneered. His grip didn’t budge on little Emily, and the poor girl was wracked with sobs. Taking a quick glance around, Andrew noticed that the mother was no longer in sight. She must’ve run back inside for help.

He looked at Emily again. It’s gonna be okay, Emily. You’ll see.”

She stared at him, looking like a frightened puppy. You gotta believe in me though, Emily. Can you do that?

This gained an annoyed snort from the attempted kidnapper. “What are you going on about?” Emily seemed like she was getting more frightened by second. Giving her his warmest smile and ignoring the man for a moment, Andrew spoke again.

Can you believe in me, Emily?

She stared at him once more, as if contemplating what he was saying, and then nodded her head. In the next moment, he saw Emily on the ground and felt himself get shoved into the side of a nearby car, held there by his throat. As he stood there fighting for air and trying to pry the digging fingers away from his neck, Andrew did the only thing he could think of in a desperate attempt to escape. He kicked the man’s shin as hard as he possibly could. Given the man’s strength and size, and his own lack of fighting knowledge, he knew he couldn’t beat this stranger. Gasping for breath, he scooped up Emily’s shaking form and made a dash for the FoodsCo entrance.

There was a loud BOOM before the man gave chase. Adrenaline pumping through his veins, Andrew didn’t stop running until they were in the relative safety of the store. Someone came running out of the building, galloping past them to tackle the kidnapper. Next came Emily’s mother just as the police arrived on the scene. Daughter and mother were reunited once again, and he looked on. As he glanced over at the man who’d tried his hand at abduction, he noticed a gun that one of the officers had had to wrestle out of the guy’s hand. And then he was all too aware of the pain in the middle of his back. Andrew felt light-headed and his legs collapsed underneath him. Memories from years of his life seemed to flash through his mind in an instant, and as he ‘saw’ those memories, he realized how he’s made a difference in the lives of the people he’s come across. Everything was important, whether it was helping his parents with some paperwork or just putting a smile on someone’s face. It was all significant. As he laid there on the ground, his last thought was of the little girl.

You saved her. There’s your difference, Andrew. It may not have been a worldwide difference, but you made a difference in that little girl’s life.

He smiled as he closed his eyes for the last time.

By: Samantha B.

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