Last week I interviewed a couple whose 19 year old grandson was stabbed to death most likely because he was Jewish and gay. They told me about his love for food, for travel and for helping others. They described what it felt like to hold him in their arms for the first time. They remembered how they taught him to go down a slide on the playground head first and fast. They showed me a lemon tree he planted in the backyard and his recipe for spiced plum upside down cake.
They said the heavens opened after nine months of no rain to expose the shallow grave where the killer left their grandson, and that they are thankful to at least know what happened to him.
They told me what they say to him each night before they go to sleep.
The same day I tutored a high school junior to help with her college application essay. She told me about nights on the street being homeless, about her Mom not knowing where to take her kids, about sleeping among strangers and later in a crowded house with relatives she barely knew.
She described how she always makes sure to get her younger brother to school on time and why she misses early classes because of that. She asked how to best explain 'F's on her report card and whether she should still apply for a spot at the college of her dreams.
I would have never guessed any of this by seeing how they walk through life. Just regular folk, one couple close to 80, the young woman 17.
So, here's my pledge: Never will I forget that everyone I meet carries some kind of sorrow in their heart. Always will I remember not to judge by what I see. Each day I will talk and act accordingly.