Half the time I question what I believe in with politics, science, and religion yet the other half of the time I am moderately convincing myself that I have figured it all out. I know generally speaking as a raised Roman Catholic I shouldn’t wonder what to believe in. However, my faith has been tested more than I would have liked in this lifetime. It is through these trials and tribulations I have realized what my heart and mind can both agree on. I believe in unconditional love, the power of prayer, and teddy bears.
When I was thirteen years old, I fell in love with the greatest guy I had ever met. David L–, a big, tall star athlete from a rival middle school that played baseball at the same Little League as me. Slowly but surely our friendship began to blossom and grow stronger. At first I tried not to take the relationship that seriously, but it became so much more than I could imagine. Eventually, we found ourselves hopelessly falling in love. He was able to expand my point of view on everything. We could argue baseball theories, religious beliefs, and mathematical equations. We became more than just high school sweethearts; we became each other’s best friend. We were able to bring some “home-made sunshine” to each other’s day. We taught each other how to love one another from a tender kiss to a random act of kindness. To me, our love was conditional.
At the age of seventeen, during the middle of our junior year of high school, David was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a muscular dystrophy cancer of the lumbar system. He had numbness spread throughout his legs, which accounted for his difficulty to walk. As part of treatment, he would be required to spend several nights at a time in the hospital for chemotherapy. He had always looked out for me, and the time had come for me to look out for him. I remember, while David was in recovery after his first surgery, the doctor had asked me to spoon feed him crushed ice to keep him hydrated. At that moment, I realized not only did he need a strong friend to help motivate him, but I wanted to see him survive. The more time I spent there, the more I felt his pain and suffering while he was undergoing treatment. We would try anything to distract us from his condition; we watched tons of movies and played so many board games throughout his hospital stays. Several times, we would discuss how everything was going but these moments usually ended with some tears shed. I tried to reassure him that God would protect and watch over him. About a month after his diagnosis, we decided to buy each other a teddy bear, so that whenever we were apart we could feel the comfort for one another and safe from harm. Every night I was away, I would bring along this bear as a reminder that God was watching over David and would unconditionally care for us. Not only as a child, but as a teenager as well, a bear can offer comfort and security from the world and help when people need it the most. Needless to say, his treatment was success and he was able to walk the stage with his classmates less than a year of being diagnosed.
Over the next few years, we grew apart. For a brief moment after high school, we toyed with the idea of getting married but the actual moment never came. We went to different colleges, explored different interests, and as much as we tried, our relationship never felt like it had. ‘Together forever’ didn’t last as long as we assumed. It was a beautiful experience that taught me so many things. Many of my current blessings can be a derivative of my faith in what we had, once upon a time. So I believe to love unconditionally, pray selflessly, and feel the comfort a teddy bear can bring.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.