Sometimes we may feel we are hanging on by a thread, and often that thread is the one thing keeping us connected to humanity. On December 3, 2004 as I walked into Dairy Queen I already had a premonition of the weight that was soon to descend upon my shoulders. “Well it looks like we are back at square one,” my mom said, as she explained that her cancer had returned. From the moment she uttered those words I felt helpless; nothing I could do, would ensure my mom’s health.
Six months later in June 2005 I found myself living in a new state, preparing to start at a new school in the fall and my mom still recovering from her bone marrow transplant. My life was once again turning upside down and often I felt that I had no control. At times like this the kindness and generosity of other people was the thread that I so desperately clung to in order to make it through the day. Little did I know that in one year’s time I would experience this feeling of helplessness again, yet this time from another’s perspective.
In June 2006 I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go on a school trip to South Africa. There are no words to describe the impact that this experience has had upon my life, not only in expanding my view of the world, but also in reminding me of the dependence each person has on another. As I sat through the numerous check-in meetings my mind was unable to comprehend the events I had witnessed: the 30th anniversary of the Soweto uprising, an AIDS hospital with it’s patients united in song, an orphanage with the staff offering us children to adopt because we were from the US, a level of poverty I had never seen, a church congregation mourning the disappearance of tens if not hundreds of fathers on Father’s Day, but most of all a country still trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered past.
As I reflect upon my time in South Africa I have truly come to understand that while every person gets up everyday and goes about their individual life we are all connected by the common threads of humanity; whether it is the emotions we experience or the dreams we have. I realized; as I did with my mom through her bone marrow transplant, that while I felt helpless, I was not without hope. Hope is the thread that gave my mom the strength to sit for another 9 hour round of chemotherapy when she felt like death had opened its door. Hope is the thread that allows a nation ravaged by a bitter past to rise up from the ashes and live. And hope is what I choose to be the thread that binds me to humanity; I hope for a better tomorrow. I hope that my life can be a light to others and a testament that hope is the only cure for the helpless.
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