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Blood, Tears, and HopeI have special powers.
Or at least I think I do.
I have this insane ability to take on the feelings of another person.
Even a complete stranger.
... not exactly what one wished for as a kid.
Yesterday, I arrived at the school where I volunteer at about mid-afternoon..
I hadn't had my lunch yet. I was eating it on my walk there.
And the first body I see is this little shirtless boy.
I recognize him at once.
My violent little troublemaker.
Why isn't he wearing a shirt?
He was all alone. So of course, I was going to go over there and check up on him. After all, he's pretty much my son. And my baby looked cold.
He was seated on a faded wooden bench, bending down low, and working on something. As I got closer to him, I saw what he was working on.
In his right hand, he gripped a quarter-sized shard of glass.
And his "work" was a 2 inch bloody gash carved into his ankle.
My baby was cutting himself.
I'd say he's about 12. Maybe.
And forcing his body to visibly show the pain he was feeling.
Most likely the humiliation he endures from a certain heinous teacher at his school.
My poor little guy.
I just stared and the blood, and then at his face.. carved out in anger.
My lungs stopped accepting oxygen.
And my heart was trying to make up for it by pumping out my blood too fast for my body to handle.
And my eyes began to burn as I fought the tears from showing themselves in front of my boy.
And I sat down beside him, not even thinking about what the "right" thing was for me to do.
I knew I had to get him to give me that piece of glass, but I knew I couldn't force him.
Because I know that force will lead to retaliation, just as oppression leads to revolt. I couldn't take away his freedom of choice, but I also couldn't let him hurt-- not on his own like that.
My voice took on a single form. A quiet form. A gentle form. A form that presents itself when I'm about to cry. And I said, "эащо?" -- "why?"
And he furrowed his eyebrows in his anger.. in his hurt. And he dug harder. And the blood dripped slowly down his ankle. And the only thing he would say was, "така..." which basically means "because." And I tried to give him a piece of toilet paper to wipe up some of the blood. Of course.. he refused it.
And then he got up and began to walk away from me.
I followed him.
I had to get that glass from him.
and he hated that he couldn't lose me.
I didn't chase him. I never made him run. But I wasn't going to let him suffer alone.
Finally he stopped. He turned around and looked me straight in the eyes. He held up the piece of glass. And he threw it as hard as he could. And he held up his empty hands in surrender. A bell began to ring, telling the kids on the other side of the school that it was time to come back inside. I looked toward the sound of the ringing, and then back to where he was standing, but he wasn't there anymore. He was already heading back inside. I stood there, looking around frantically for the piece of glass in the grass. I began to allow the tears to flow down. I had to find it. I had to bury it deep in the dirt. I didn't care if the blood got on my hands. His hurt is my hurt. And I didn't want it to be found ever again. But I never got the chance-- not 2 minutes after being called inside, he was being sent outside by one of the teachers. I wiped my eyes on my sleeves and walked toward him. He saw me, and kept walking away. He crossed the basketball court and I stopped following him. I dropped my jacket, my bags and my lunch on the ground, followed by my body. He was sitting directly on the opposite side of the courts. And I looked down at my lunch and began to eat. My thought process was if he wants my company, at least I'll be around where he can find me.
And he did.
He crossed the expansive cement and sat down beside me. And he showed me his most recent "work."
And then the evidence of his other works.
They were many.
I asked him "why" again. And this time, his face was downcast. And he just shrugged his shoulders.
And I decided that since I didn't have the vocabulary to discuss it, that my best bet was to distract him, and cheer him up. So I showed him my homework. He was impressed that I was learning Bulgarian.
And I began to practice with him. Mostly my numbers. We had a lot of fun with that. I purposely messed up to show him that even "grown ups" mess up on their school work. Then I took out my new phone and handed it to him to see. Kids love technology these days. He asked me, "музика?" --"music?" Sadly, I shook my head, "No." But! I had my I-pod. And God bless that little thing. I made his day by letting him listen to it. I showed him some songs I thought he might like. And you wouldn't believe how his sweet little face shines when he smiles. His eyes! Oh his eyes. So vivid, so piercing, so expressive. They soften when he smiles. My heart began to swell. I slowly convinced him to share my lunch with me. He was very hesitant. I know this boy doesn't eat except at school. But he was so worried he would be taking away my lunch. He kept saying, "No, you eat it!" So I ate some, and left out some crackers for him to eat if he wanted, which progressed to some lunch meat and cheese And something happened in this moment. We sort of bonded. And suddenly, all day long, he went out of his way to protect me. I mean ALL DAY LONG. When it came time for snack time, he tried to give me his snack. I wasn't hungry, so I smiled and said "no thank you." He insisted, so I took a tiny piece. But still... it meant so much to me that he wanted to share what little he had. I know what it's like to be hungry. And hunger does something dreadful to you. It makes you angry. It keeps you from thinking rationally. And when you have food, you become sort of.. greedy with it.
But he wasn't greedy. He was generous. It wasn't just that he didn't want to be "indebted" to me, but it was more like we were taking care of each other. He was just more insistent with me. My little sweetheart.
I used to regret my so called "special powers."
I thought I was overly sensitive...
I thought I was weak.
But I'm not weak.
If it weren't for this anomaly in me that allows me to feel what another person feels.. I mean to truly feel it,
none of this would have happened. The blood would still be flowing. And he would still have been hungry. And that hunger would have kept him angry. And deep down, my baby would still be hurting.
I'm not so naive as to believe that I took away his pain. I know I don't have that power.
But, if he was distracted from his hurt, even for just a little bit, then maybe that was just enough time for a little bit of healing to take place.. just enough time for a tiny flicker of light to shine in the darkness... just enough time for something to rise up inside him.... just enough time for Hope, to make her appearance.
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