14 Years Later, This Dad Found A Special Way To Thank A Stranger Who Believed In Him

"What matters is that for a brief moment a long time ago, you believed in me."

The kind words we say to others can have a meaningful, lasting impact on others — and this story is proof. 

James Breakwell, or XplodingUnicorn as he's known on Twitter, is a dad who has become internet famous for his hilarious parenting tweets. Breakwell, who has nearly 1 million followers on the social platform, writes about the perspectives of his four daughters, as well as some of the trials and triumphs of raising his kids

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He's just released his first book which, of course, blends both parenting and humor. Titled Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, the book blends parenting advice and zombie survival tips,"bringing together two totally unrelated genres in a book no one asked for, but everyone needs." 

That's surprising and hilarious in and of itself, but what makes this book really special is what Breakwell decided to do with the very first signed copy. On Twitter last week, he shared a special letter he wrote to the person he gave it to. "It took me 14 years to write this letter," he tweeted. "Today I finally mailed it." 

The letter was written to a man who is more or less a stranger. "You're probably confused right now. You received a book you didn't order on a topic you don't care about by an author you don't recognize. Let me explain," Breakwell wrote in the letter to him. He went on to explain that the man attended his high school graduation 14 years prior. 

"You weren't there to see me — you were there for your daughter, who was in my class — but you politely listened to me talk anyway instead of getting up to go to the bathroom or faking a heart attack," he wrote.  "Later, you asked me for a signed copy of the speech. When I asked why, you said you thought I would be something someday." 

"You might not remember making that request. In fact, I'm sure you don't. And if I asked you where that signed copy of my speech is today, you'd give me the same answer I give when my kids ask what happened to their old artwork that used to be on the fridge," he continued. "But what matters is that for a brief moment a long time ago, you believed in me. You were the first person to ever ask for my autograph. I silently vowed then and there that when I wrote a book, I would give you the first signed copy." 

Breakwell admits that it took him a long while to actually write that first book, but he's so proud that he was able to keep his promise. 

"Fourteen years and two failed careers later, I finally found a publisher who believed in me as much as you did," he wrote. "This is that signed book. I'd love to tell you I became a success like you predicted, but the truth is this modest book might be as far as I ever make it. But at least I got far enough to fulfill a silent promise you didn't even know about, and to me, that means everything in the world." 

He ended on a thankful and humorous note. "Thanks for believing in me before anyone else did. Sorry it didn't earn you a better book." 

Now doesn't that story make you want to thank every other perfect stranger or mild acquaintance or full-fledged friend who encouraged you? 

Breakwell's tweet about the touching letter has since been shared more than 6,500 times and has over 35,000 likes. Hundreds of people responded to say how moved they were. 

Breakwell's story is a beautiful and moving one, but it also has a powerful lesson to teach us all. We can all positively impact other people's lives through kind, sincere words. It takes nothing for us to share words of encouragement, but for the people who hear them, it can mean everything. 

And for those of us who have someone special who has believed in us, let's take the time to thank them, too. 

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