July twentieth two thousand and three was the day my eyes were opened to pain and suffering, as well as the compassion of human kind. That day, my eight year old brother ran across our street without looking, and was hit by a car. My mother’s scream was only drowned out by the screeching of tires and the wail of my brother as he lay, crumpled on the cold ground shaking in agony and fear. My younger sister and I raced to his side and attempted to absorb his pain by making jokes and funny faces, but we were unsuccessful. In the midst of this nightmare, I was surrounded, although I did not know it, by compassion. My neighbors ran out of their houses with phones plastered to their ears, shouting into them for an ambulance. With the sirens on their way, silence enveloped us and even the pitiful sounds of my weeping brother were hushed as I made the terrifying phone to my dad. A cool twelve year old, I explained the situation to my dad while putting on a brave face for my younger sister, and as I turned to keep an eye on my mom and fallen brother, I saw the neighbors retreat into their houses. Outraged, I hung the phone up and went to the end of the block trying to fill the silence that was smothering me. Looking back at my brother, I saw the neighbors had once again congregated around the little boy on the ground, but he was no longer shaking, because a blanket had been wrapped around him and a pillow put under his head. My mother sat beside him with tears streaming down her cheeks, surrounded by every neighbor on the block, who took turns holding and comforting her.
The silence disappeared as the ambulance arrived and the cacophony started in earnest with police talking to the driver of the car, and paramedics taking control of my fragile brother, asking him his name and age, while my mother looked on helplessly as her youngest was loaded onto a stretcher. Without a word, my mother jumped into the ambulance after my brother and they left for the hospital leaving my sister and me to pick up the pieces, a thrown shoe, and a forgotten sweatshirt. One of our neighbors without being asked, drove us to our grandmothers house were we awaited my brothers sentence. We were fortunate. He had broken four bones, but had no head trauma which was a miracle. That day was, as my mother calls it, the luckiest day of our lives. That day, my brother broke his leg, and that day, I realized that especially in the worst of times, compassion is not far away, in fact it is so close that at first, you might miss it.
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