When I was in the 8th grade in Ohio, a girl named Helen in my class had a terrible accident. As she was running to the bus in order not to miss it, she slipped on some ice and fell under the rear wheels of the bus. She survived the accident, but was paralyzed from the waist down. I went to see her, in my 13yearold mind thinking she wouldn’t live normally from then on.
Over the years, I moved and didn’t think much about Helen after that. Three years ago, in Florida, my oldest son was hit by a car while riding his bike, causing a terrible brain injury. While I was looking after my son, a lady who said she was the hospital’s social worker called. It was a particularly trying day. I burst into tears for no reason and hung up.
A short time later, a beautiful woman, in a wheelchair, rolled into my son’s room with a box of tissues. After 16 years, I still recognized Helen. She smiled, handed me the tissues and hugged me. I told her who I was, and after we both got through the shock of that, she began to tell me about her life since we last saw each other. She had married, had children and gotten her degree so that she could smooth the path for those less fortunate than her. She told me that if there was anything she could give me, it would be hope.
Looking at this wonderful, giving person, I felt small. But I also felt the first hope I had felt since learning that my son was hurt. From this person that I thought would have no quality of life, I learned that where there is life, there is hope. My son miraculously recovered and we moved back north, but I owe Helen a debt that I can never repay.