I was in a hospital yesterday. In the waiting room, I saw something that made me sad. Sick people, yes, that was sad. But standing out from the pack, sort of stealing the scene, was one man in particular — barely a man — seeming to be only 20 years old at most. His head was completely bandaged, as were both of his wrists. On his face were new cuts, scrapes, and gashes. The injuries he sustained were pretty dreadful. He looked like he could have easily died. I was feeling queasy looking at him because I was imagining the pain he must be in. It was a most harrowing sight.
I couldn’t help but wonder how and why he was hurt. I imagined a fight, an altercation. I imagined whether he was the victim or the aggressor — possibly both. There was a definite appearance about him that led me to believe he probably doesn’t hang with a safe crowd. And it was obvious he was low on the socio-economic scale.
He had family around him. At least four women, possibly sisters, a girlfriend, maybe his mother — surrounded him, checking on him, supporting him. I could sense the love. But I could sense that they weren’t out of the woods yet. The cloud over them was heavy.
And then I noticed a little girl, no more than 6 years old cuddled and coiled in the lap of one of the women. Was she his daughter, his sister? Maybe, maybe not. But why was she there? What happened in the course of events that kept her from being in school that morning? She had a big backpack with her. It was cute with princesses on it, but huge like the kids have to carry today. You know, where the backpack looks almost bigger than the child herself. Had she witnessed anything? Because she was certainly seeing the aftermath.
I saw a police officer come inside to let them know their ride was ready — a ride in a police van. They all went together. Whether the man was to be arraigned on charges or whether he was just being brought in for questioning was not what overtook my mind then. All I could think about was that little girl and what she was taking in at that moment. What had she seen that morning? What was she thinking now? What was imprinting on her forever? I saw her eyes glued to his face. Though strangely, it didn’t seem like it was a new thing for her. So young.
Will she follow this same path later in life? Will she continue the cycle? Or will she go the other way?
Breaking a cycle is very difficult. We become programmed at such a young age. I’ve heard psychologists say we’re who we will be by the time we’re three. This little girl has seen so much already at such a young age it makes me wonder what permanent impact it has had on her. It makes me wonder if there’s hope for her future.
Well, of course there’s hope. There’s always hope.
To help New York children in need, please visit my Crowdrise page to make a donation to Operation Backpack.
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