This I Believe

Lauren - Chesapeake, Virginia
Entered on December 6, 2006

This, I Believe…

I believe that children can teach us to smile through our tears.

I had the privilege of knowing a six-year-old little girl. Tationna was a child who faced many difficulties. Before she was allowed a fair chance at facing the world, she was cursed with the addiction of cocaine. This alone was not her only burden; the devastating diseases, AIDS and Sickle Cell Anemia, accompanied her battle of addiction. Her large frame, developed from steroids, along with her feeble legs, forced her to remain seated in a wheelchair. The straight-A student, who usually missed more days than she attended, made every effort to try to be more like the other students. She always pulled herself out of her wheelchair, held onto hard surfaces, and dragged her legs as she attempted to walk around the classroom. One of her favorite moments was in physical education class, where she managed to balance herself while mocking jumping jacks.

As the year wore on, it was evident that Tationna’s condition was worsening. Her young childhood was slowly being stripped from her, even the pure joy of getting out of her wheelchair decreased and I noticed that I had to lift her more often in order for her to participate in simple activities. It even got to the point that our daily recess routine of swinging on the swings ceased because she could barely hold onto the chains as I pushed her. Yet, through all her struggles and hardships, Tationna smiled.

Every time she returned to school after her release from the hospital, she smiled. Although she was unable to do the things the other children could do, she smiled. Even during her last few hours, she smiled.

I can hardly go a day without seeing or hearing about a child who reminds me of Tationna. So many innocent children in the world have to overcome more hardship than many adults bear in their lifetime. These children have Tationna’s resilience and spirit. After all, how easy it is to get lost in a self-serving attitude when life stacks its disappointments and mishaps against you. But, every time this scenario appears, I remember my belief that if a child, like Tationna, can smile through her tears then so can I.