And What Followed...

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Tiny Story About Rasheed

Hey guys,

I had share this story with you. This is not one of those sappy e-mails that go round and round the internet. This is a true incident that happend just yesterday (Wednesday the 30th), written first-hand and only for the eyes of a few by Julie, a close
friend and cancersurvivor. I see stories like this everyday but wanted to share this little one.
Just a reminder to enjoy the blessings you have and to remember those who need our prayers.



I need to tell you a story about another person, a very little person, to pray for.

Today, at City of Hope, I was just leaving class and passing by the reception area. Rick, Anna, Joy and Carole were helping me clean up and pack up my car. I was rushed. We were chatting, laughing, hugging--the usual.

As we went in and out of the door, we passed by a very small boy, an African-American about seven I would guess, who was sitting in the lobby while his mother checked in. At first I didn't notice, but then I saw what I thought was her signing check-in papers. She looked young, perhaps in her mid-20s.

My attention went back to this tiny boy wearing a surgical mask, a wool hat, a very heavy coat, long pants and sports shoes. He looked like he could have been dressed for a Michigan snow storm, not for a sunny California day.

My first glimpse at him was of his skin, not a healthy color but a grey tone, not like anyone I had seen before. Not much of his skin was even showing, only his hands and a little of his forehead. His big brown eyes stared back at me. He looked afraid, but much more, he looked cold, chilled. He was shaking, shivering.

As soon as I saw him, I remembered we had been given some hand-made, individual Easter baskets by a dear friend of mine, Beverly, from the Seattle area. She made each one with a handle and Easter bunnies on the sides. She mailed them to me so I could give them out at today's class.

When I looked back in the room, there were none left. Then I saw Anna's, which she was going to take home. It was there on the table with her purse.

Without a word from me, Anna picked up her basket and took it out to the lobby, seeing the boy as he sat alone and sad. She smiled at him and said, "This is from the Easter Bunny!" as she handed it to him. His eyes lighted up and he pulled his mask down for a second to say a weak, "Thank you."

I saw Anna disappear back into the room, away from my sight. I later found her in there, tears streaming down her face. When I told her it was a lovely gesture that she had just done, she said, "I would have given him much more if it was in my power to make him well. I came back in here because I didn't want him to see me in tears."

Then, as I started getting ready to leave, I remembered I had a hand-made "surgeon's hat" with wild colors that was made by another friend of mine, Carla, in a batch for leukemia children who are bald and undergoing chemo.

I went back out into the lobby and asked the little boy his name. He replied, "Rasheed," as he continued to look at the tiny basket and examine the candy and chocolate eggs inside. He didn't eat any of sweets. He didn't look like he wanted to eat anything right then but he held onto the gift just the same.

Then, Anna came back out to the lobby with a yellow plastic bracelet, one of Lance Armstrong's. Again, we had just one of those in the classroom. She presented Rasheed with it and told him it was just like Lance Armstrong's. I added, "Lance beat cancer and you will too." Rasheed nodded his head. It seemed he knew about Lance Armstrong.

Then, I brought out the hat and asked him if he like to have it, telling him there were only two like it--one was given to one of the doctors in the hospital and Rasheed would have the only other one. Again, his eyes lighted up, he nodded and reached for it. But, before I gave it to him, I went to his mother, still writing, writing, as she stood at the counter. I asked her if it was okay to give him all those items.

She said nothing. She kept writing, writing with her head down.

Then, the woman at the reception desk said to me, "She's deaf. She doesn't hear you. Her son there translates for her.

My heart sank. That tiny boy with cancer had more troubles than many of us would have in a lifetime. She had been writing notes back and forth to the receptionist, asking about how City of Hope operated so she could be there to help her son get well. She, too, had more troubles than many of us will have in a lifetime.

I picked up a pen and paper and wrote my question to her, asking her if it was okay for Rasheed to have the things. She read the note and nodded and smiled. A few minutes later they walked out together hand in hand.

Many unforgettable things have happened in that classroom, in that building, on that campus. Meeting Rasheed and his mother were today's moments.

Pray for them both.

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