Future Restored

“Pack up your stuff, you’re heading back to school!”

My pillow was saturated in tears that winter night. An e-mail from my college's financial aid office was still showing on my computer screen. I did not have the money to return the next semester.

My roommates were comparing their new class schedules, strategizing how to share textbooks, and calculating nap schedules into their new class line-up. They were another step closer to their dreams.

I was packing my dreams into boxes, along with blankets, pillows and towels. My dad helped load my belongings into his faded blue pickup truck and I hugged my friends goodbye. There were a mixture of well wishes and hopes for my return, but I was confronting the prospect that my departure was permanent.

As the New Year passed, my social networks were filled with my friends' hopes for the school season. They were returning to school and I was at home. I didn't realize how lonely it would feel.

It was the first official day of classes. I woke to the ring of the phone downstairs. As my father talked on the phone, I started searching for jobs in my area. Now that I wasn't in school, I would need to start paying back my school loans.

The fact that I would not be returning to school became real. Ever since I had packed my things, there had been this small hope that maybe something miraculous would happen. But as I searched the job listings, I knew it was because I had given up hope. 

No hero was going to swoop in and save the day.

The clunk of the phone being hastily placed into the receiver and the thundering of my dad's footsteps pulled me from my self-pity.

"Pack up your stuff, you're heading back to school!" My father's face was flushed as he grabbed a suitcase.
"That was the financial aid office. Someone donated $5,000 and paid the remainder of your spring tuition."

"But Dad, I'm not signed up for any classes!"

A big boyish grin spread on my dad's face. "Your professors have made room for you. Your first day of class is today. Now get your stuff packed, we gotta move!"

In the ensuing chaos of throwing an assortment of clothes, bed-ding, and shower needs back into the pale blue pickup truck, my dad explained that the donor was unknown and had just paid off my tuition that morning. 

My professors had been notified and made a schedule so I could continue to graduate on time. I called my roommates and they cheered and said they would get my side of the room cleared and ready for my arrival.

It wasn't until I was sitting in my first class three hours later, with the pen and notebook we had bought at a gas station on the drive back to school, that I realized that I was actually back. The miracle I thought wouldn't come... came. It was just a little late getting here.

I never learned who paid for my return, but whoever you are, you were my miracle. Thank you.

This story is from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Random Acts of Kindness: 101 Stories of Compassion and Paying It Forward © 2017 Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC. All rights reserved.

Cover image via DomDew_Studio I Shutterstock

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