By CK (A 20 year old girl from Crown Heights)
I got on the B train like I do every morning. Some mornings I get a seat, other times I don’t. Today was one of those days (that I didn’t.)
I found an empty spot, took hold of the pole and waited for the train to start moving. With a little jolt it took off, ricketing and racketing its way down the tracks. My head hurt, my knee hurt, I could barely keep my eyes open. There were funky smells drifting my way. I was nauseated and hungry all at the same time.
I stood there, for the first four minutes of my train ride doing nothing but complaining in my head. Next stop came and I got a seat, I sat down and began to do my usual people watching.
There was Ms. punk rock gothic ‘I feel so cool cuz’ my tights have got more holes than a chunk of swiss cheese.’ Next came Mr. I love donuts, pizza, kentucky fried chicken, and anything else with a minimum of 4,000 calories per serving. (Mind you he took up 3 seats – literally.)
I made my way around my area of the train when I met someone’s eyes. He must’ve been 7 or 8 years-old. He had big brown curious eyes and the most genuine, contagious smile. Most of his hair was missing but there were some random spots of matted hair that had begun to grow back. Next to him was who I assumed was his mother.
He gleefully waved his raggedy excuse of a doll in her face letting out a burst of giggles. She smiled back at him, the creases by her mouth barely meeting her eyes. So much pain was behind that smile.
Of all the concepts of life I don’t understand, I think motherhood definitely takes the cake. I love many people. I love my family; there are friends I love deeply but nothing even close to what I imagine loving a child must feel like. Imagine creating something. Then I imagine carrying this creation around for nine months, feeding it, keeping it warm. When this creation is born – how can you not be unconditionally, madly in love with it? YOU made it!
I get chills when I think about the concept of having a baby. It is the most incredible miracle of life. The love, the pride, and satisfaction your child brings you when he or she does something good are colossal. Unfortunately though the same goes for when bad things happen.
What can possibly be more painful than watching your angel suffer?
I remember clearly this incident post one of my surgeries. I was in a lot of pain and just didn’t seem to be making any progress. Day and night my mother sat there by my side holding my hand and praying for the pain to stop. The moment that sticks out was when the doctors came in after me being there for almost two weeks and looked at my mother and I and said, “we’re really sorry, we’re trying our best but we just can’t seem to figure out is wrong.”
I could barely move, barely even open my eyes from the blinding headaches I was suffering from, but my mother… my mother on the other hand got up, burst into tears, and walked out of the room. It was one of the few times I ever saw my mother cry. Only later on did she explain to me those tears. She said to me, “there is nothing in the world that is more painful than watching your child suffer and being unable to do anything about it.”
When a mother watches her child suffer it isn’t just watching another person in pain. You’re watching and feeling a little piece of you in pain.
Looking at this mom next to her sick son you could see the love and pain all twisted in one. I looked back at the giggling boy. I was so enamored by the positive aura surrounding and enveloping him. Suddenly I realized I was one stop away from work. I needed more time. I needed to try and find out this boy’s secret. How? How on earth could he be so happy? I wanted to shake him and be like, “Are you crazy?? Do you think it’s normal that you look the way you do? That your face is all funny looking, that you have no hair? Because it’s not ok! No one should have to go through what you go through!”
Maybe it was my imagination, maybe it was coincidence, or maybe he was the Shliach in which Hashem was sending me a message, as I stepped off the train and took one look back I could’ve sworn he winked at me.
With that wink came a whole message. A message of hope, and a message of faith. Yes, I’m suffering; we all suffer in some form or another. Physical pain, emotional pain, no one goes through life without experiencing pain. But why focus on the pain? Why focus on being angry at the pain you’re being caused? Guess what?! Not only does being angry and frustrated not help your situation but it has in fact made it ten times worse! Be happy. Embrace the pain for you know it’s all part of a bigger picture. Once, that with our limited understanding we unfortunately can not grasp. Embrace the challenges for you know it’s making you into the strong beautiful person you are.
I walked to work, my heart all warm and fuzzy. I can’t believe how much precious time of my precious life I waste complaining; time wasted being angry at G-d, being frustrated at life.
Who knew that taking one simple train ride, the same train I take every single morning, would hold the person that touched my life. I don’t know who you are, little boy with cancer.
Chances are I’ll never see you again. But I want to thank you from the depth of my heart for reminding me what an amazing gift of life I’ve been given and how it’s about time to start making the best of it. I pray that G-d be with you and make you feel pain no more.