The Grand Beginning – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

The Grand Beginning

Hey there, Meredith!

Well, it looks like you have ended right where you started from (location-wise): peering at the Ambassador bridge from the 6th floor lounge. But this time, you are in the company of the moon in its waxing gibbous phase. You are also in the company of the the kind, knowledgeable, reasonable, and huggable Chris Anderson. In addition to Chris, you have met so many inspiring and friendly individuals who have changed your life for the better. And I can assure you that your friendship with the city of Detroit and its people has also just began.

I think the lyrics to “For Good” by Idina Menzel capture my feelings pretty accurately:

I’ve heard it said,
That people come into our lives
For a reason
Bringing something we must learn.
And we are lead to those
Who help us most to grow if we let them.
And we help them in return.
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun,
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood.
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better
But because I knew you.
I have been changed for good.

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime.
So, let me say before we part:
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you.
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you’ll have rewritten mine
By being my friend.

Two weeks ago, I had one of my friends read the complete lyrics to this song before he went to treatment for thirty days. It seemed like the perfect “synchronous” time to do so.

For some background, Aaron Foster was very timid and apprehensive about conversation when I first came to Bell. I respected his reserved personality, but I continued to greet him each day with a friendly hello, smile, and bits of small talk. As the weeks progressed, Aaron started to open up, and we were on a hug salutation basis. A little while back, Aaron decided to sit in on soccer practice. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Aaron kicking a soccer ball against the wall. Keep in mind that Aaron uses a cane to get around. The next thing I know, Aaron hobbles to where we were scrimmaging, and he says something along the lines of “clear the way, Aaron’s coming to play.” Aaron hopped into the court as goalie, and he had quite a few remarkable saves. Anyone could tell how happy he was from his big smile and contagious chuckle.

At the conclusion of practice, I went to wait outside for my carpool to pick me up. Aaron exited the building and sat down next to me. I was asking him how he was able to play, and he responded saying, “God is good.”
While our departure was sad, there was a mutual unstated feeling of gratitude. Grateful that each of us could be in each other’s lives, even if it was for a only a brief moment. But I know I’m who I am today because I knew you. And as Mister John Brown wrote in his going away card to the Jesuit Volunteers, Elizabeth and Sophie, “See you in heaven.”
Much love,


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