It has been several years now, since the last time I was given such a check on my emotional heartstrings in regards to the effect of childhood cancer.
My wife, who ensures that we give to a number of charities, provided transportation to take an eight-year-old daughter of one of her friends to donate her hair to Locks-of-Love. The charity group takes the virgin hair, donated by children, to make wigs for other children who are battling cancer.
“That’s really nice.” I told my wife as she relayed the experience to me.
Meanwhile, my thoughts roamed through the recesses of my mind and found a very specific memory.
“I need help posting the pictures…” She was explaining.
“Uh… Yeah.” I responded deftly, my thoughts still swirling, attempting to clarify the fuzzy picture of an old memory. “Maybe I’ll write a little piece you can post with the pictures, or I can post it on my friends blog.”
“Oh… OK.” She said thoughtfully, not sure of the idea. “Well. I have to get back to work. Love you.”
“OK… Love you, Baby.” I replied, the full force of that distant memory flooding into my consciousness.
As I said, it was several years ago. I was a local truck driver in the Los Angeles area. There I was; listening to the radio as I worked my way through the heavy L.A. traffic, which happened to be a daily event, when something different happened.
On this particular day, between the music sets, I was half-heartedly listening to the DJ interview people as they were promoting a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Suddenly however, the interviewee captured my full attention.
“What would you do?” He began to relate his story.
You are walking down the street, and like any other day, being accosted by beggars, looking for a spare buck so they can get their next beer. Of course, you habitually decline. Then you feel someone tugging at your shirt, to get your attention.
When you turn, you have to look down to see the small, bald child who is summoning your assistance. You cannot help but give her your full attention.
“Excuse me, Sir.” She begins. “Can you afford to help me buy my next dose of medicine?”
“What?” You exclaim, astounded.
“Please, Sir?” The little girl pleads. “I have been diagnosed with cancer and without my next dose of medicine to fight it… Well, I will lose the fight.”
I had no choice. I pulled over to the side of the road and sat there, crying like a baby. I sat there thinking how brutal the guy’s message was. Then realized, his message was nowhere near as brutal as the daily life and death struggle of the little girl he described.
When I finished working that day, I stopped by an ATM and went to the remote broadcast location to make a cash donation. After all, it was the least I could do.
“Thank you, Sir.” I heard someone say shyly, as I purposefully dropped the money into the donation basket.
I looked to the voice and viewed a little girl, maybe ten years old, thin, gaunt, and wearing a ball cap to hide her bald head.
“You’re a St. Jude’s patient?” Was all my stunned brain could muster. “Shouldn’t you be at the hospital?
“Yes, I am.” She stated, cringing back slightly at my recognition of her condition, then added. “This is a good day though. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” I returned, flatly.
I abruptly turned and left. The impression of that day will, I believe, remain with me the rest of my life. The sight of that little girl, after having heard the story on the radio, seeing the easily fractured confidence, and her painfully high level of self-consciousness regarding her appearance, touched my heart. I hope I never lose the compassion I feel, whenever I think of that day.
Now, all these years later, I am grateful to hear that someone is trying to help these children regain their self-esteem. It makes me proud, that my wife took time to be a part of it. But mostly, I am touched at the thought of an eight-year-old little girl, along with a bunch of other children, selflessly donating their Locks-of-Love to other children they do not know.
God bless you all.
When i was asked if i would post this, i felt honoured to have the opportunity. Dave, thank you.