This I Believe

Jacob - Victoria, Texas
Entered on November 29, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: illness, setbacks

Meeting Robert: How One Boy Changed Me

My chest pounded as the nurse rubbed an alcohol swab on the inside of my elbow. My veins bulged from the rubber band. I watched as the needle pierced my skin and slowly took the blood from my arm. The blood would later be tested for any disease such as leukemia. I didn’t remember how many times I had given blood before, but each time I reacted with the same anxiety that the doctors might find what they were looking for.

Most kids never hear nor know what the word leukemia means, but I did because that’s how my mom died. She passed away just before I turned two. In elementary school, I never really grasped the loss, but as I moved to middle school, I realized all those early trips to the doctor and the blood tests weren’t normal. They were to see if the disease had passed to me in the womb. I realized I never knew my mom. It was strange how I could love and miss someone so bad I had never even met. I felt sorry for myself. However, one person changed my entire perspective.

My best friend in middle school was Thomas Kocian. I always knew Thomas had a younger brother, but he never talked about him. However, I met his brother the first time when I was thirteen. I walked through the door of Thomas’ house and saw a strange looking kid sitting in La-Z-Boy. The captions on the television were on and the sound was off. I tried not to stare, but couldn’t help noticing what looked like an IV bag filled with oatmeal. A tube hung from the bag and disappeared under the boy’s shirt. He smiled, making his thick glasses raise about half an inch on his cheeks. I recognized the scar on his upper lip. This eleven year old boy was Robert. He was Thomas’ brother. Robert was born with a cleft palate, horrible vision, deaf, and was recently

recovering from open heart surgery. The “oatmeal” was actually Robert’s feeding tube. Robert had every reason to feel sorry for himself. However, in the six years that I have known him, I haven’t seen Robert cry, get mad, or complain one time. I realized how silly it was that I was feeling sorry for myself. I realized that through all Robert’s problems, he never let his disabilities affect his outlook on life. Robert always lived life with a smile on his face.

I believe that everyone has a Robert in life. Robert represents the struggles in life. Yet, he also represents the human ability to endure hardships and pull through. Robert reminded me of my struggle with the grief and loss associated with my mother. I still miss her, but I’ve moved passed feeling sorry for myself. I remember that struggles and pain are just a part of life. I believe the spirit of every human contains the ability to continue through pains of trying times and move past sorrow.