"You radiate with calm and confidence."
How did he react?
His eyes got wet. "I have heard this once before. Actually this very statement makes me cling to life."
How did I feel?
I spotted Andreas on a cloudy afternoon in Hanover. He was leaning against a wall at a pedestrian zone. In his hand he held a paper cup. He was begging for money.
A camera team behind me I approached him. "Hey there!"
He gave the camera a skeptical look. "Hey...?"
"Can I talk to you for a second?"
"You kinda already are..."
I grinned. "You're right. So I have this project-..."
He seemed like he was on the verge of shaking his head and asking us to leave but he said,"Erm, so..?"
"I compliment a person a day for one year. Today you're my candidate."
"Oh." His face lit up slightly. However I think he still was not convinced he was a fan of what was happening.
"Here's what I thought when I saw you: You radiate with calm and confidence. The vibe you spread feels clear and super pleasant. Though I don't know you at all it seems to me like you are the kind of person who knows how to man up."
Within a second his expression changed from doubting to thunderstruck. He stared at me. A moment passed, then he opened his arms. We hugged. When we looked into each other's eyes again I saw there were tears in his. He told me, "I have heard this once before. Years ago my doctor told me that same thing. You know I am chronically sick. To be honest it is his statement which keeps me going at times. Over time many of my friends have gone, like, not come back. For good. Killed themselves, you know. But I have not. I stick around. Because whenever I am down I think of these words and they lift me up again."
I didn't know what to say. Now I was the one to be thunderstruck and stare at him. Finally I swallowed and just hugged him again.
We had the nicest chat afterwards, he told me about where he was from (way up in Northern Germany) and engaged with the camera team, too. A smile covered his face now. It stayed for the entire rest of our encounter.
Before the cameraman stopped videotaping Andreas approached him and said, "So if this is going to be aired here is one thing I want to, no, have to add. May I?" The cameraman, slightly surprised, nodded. Andreas cleared his throat, then looked right into the lens. "AIright." He straightened his back. "Here we go: I love my girlfriend. Honey, this goes out to you, I love you with all my heart and you are the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me. I love you so, so much." Then he nodded. He seemed content.
We stuck around a bit longer. Told tales, laughed, listened. The journalist from the team gave Andreas some money. I did not want to leave. But I had to be somewhere so eventually we said goodbye, hugged one more time, then the team and I walked off. Clouds were still covering the sky but I did not notice them anymore. I was walking on the brightest sunshine ever.