WARNING…. This one isn’t light or funny or all that nostalgic feeling. It is however a part of my life just the same.
My college roommate and I started off with a fairly decent relationship. He was an athlete from the western part of NC and of course, I was a non-athlete from the east. We didn’t have very much in common but were always cordial when we were in the room and would chat about what our days had been like but nothing super friendly.
As the weeks progressed though, I noticed a change in him. He became more confused or disconnected with his comments about things. It was like he wasn’t sure about classes or his sports activities… or anything else. Since I was having my own struggles with this whole college thing I didn’t take it too much to heart that he was in a much deeper / more dire situation than me. Looking back on it, he was becoming very lethargic… just laying around the room and struggling to get through each day.
I really wasn’t paying much attention…. I was lost in my own troubles… I had ended up on crutches (yes, I still owe you that story too, I know) and classes continued to be a struggle and this long distant relationship just wasn’t working so well either so, I just couldn’t take it any more. I needed something familiar before I completely drown in it all. So I convinced my sister to let me borrow her car to go home, if I could get to Raleigh to get it. I finally found a way up there so I took off for the weekend and went home.
I came back on Sunday feeling a bit stronger or at least rejuvenated from having some time with things that are familiar… just being home for a day or two was a help… but….
When I walked back into my room, my roommate was sitting in his desk chair… staring blankly into space. He didn’t move or acknowledge me when I said hello and ask him about his weekend. After a few minutes, he turned and looked at me and said, “I want it back.” I had no clue what he was talking about. I couldn’t get him to engage in a conversation. I stepped out in the hall and asked a guy that lived next door what had gone on. He told me that some guys from one of the religious groups on campus had been over visiting for a quite a bit over the weekend. After some further investigation I found out that these guys had been over, determined that he had some significant spiritual issue and did some praying over him. After much questioning of my roommate, I figured out that he felt like they had driven something out of him through their prayers…. and whatever it was, he wanted it back.
This whole thing scared me half to death. I left him just sitting like a zombie in his chair and I went down the hall to see if I could find someone to help me.. or just to talk to about it. The folks I turned to weren’t in so I went back to my room.
As I walked in…. there was my roommate… he had climbed out of the window and was standing on the ledge. I slowly walked over to him and ask him what he was doing… he just kept saying “I want it back.” I was afraid he was going to jump. As soon as I got close enough that I could get a hand on him, I grabbed him and pulled him with all the strength I could muster to get him back in the window. We fell to the floor and he just broke down crying. I yelled for the guy in the next room to come over…
While I sat with my roommate, our next door neighbor contacted someone in administration. The next morning, my roommate’s dad showed up, loaded up his son and all his belongings and left. I never saw him or heard anything about him again…
This event profoundly impacted me in more ways that I can even begin to write here. But even so, there are instances even today, when I catch myself so focused on myself that I worry that I’m not seeing people around me that are in much greater need of my help / support than my petty little issues. Watch out for each other… there are lots of folks that could use your help.