“There’s a family picnic coming up this weekend.” My mother said. How exhilarating. The 20th family picnic that summer. “Oh, and by the way…we’re making the food this time, I need your help.” We would all take turns to make the food. I hated preparing for these picnics. Purportedly they thought it would help us all bond together. That we needed to bond. Yeah…right. All it contributed to the table was more hostility, gossip, and drama. Plus I’m the only one out of all of my cousins that’s a teenager. So sitting around a group of middle-aged women and sugar-hyped kids in a park every Saturday isn’t really my thing. There was one cousin, Sarah, though; well she wasn’t really my cousin, more like my 4th step-cousin, she was 24. She looked like she was 16 and needed someone to talk to. It’s funny how I never knew that she was related to me. I didn’t even know who she was at the time. She was clothed like she a 5th grader, her hair was tousled and the length of a boy’s hair, she even had some facial hair. She acted very inelegantly as if she was anxious to be around people. She kept stuttering and gazing into space. I let all of that go and asked her if she wanted to play some basketball. She gleefully agreed and jumped up to get the ball. When she came back from the car, another family that we didn’t know had arrived at the park to have their own picnic. They had a son with Cerebral Palsy in a wheelchair. What they did next was unbelievable, I was traumatized. They lit up a hookah and wedged it in their son’s mouth. I wanted to storm my way over there and give them a huge piece of my mind. I felt that I needed to help the boy. How could you impose someone to do something, and they didn’t even know it? As I advanced up the hill, Sarah grabbed my arm and said, “Let’s go before the courts get filled!” I determined it would be best to let them be, and go play basketball. Some guys came over and asked if they could play too. We were in inner city Chicago, in the sweltering heat of the summer sun, and there were a lot of people wanting to play. We decided that we would have a real game. I didn’t know if Sarah could play…but I said oh well, it’ll probably be fun anyway. About five minutes into the game Sarah unexpectedly stopped. I bellowed at her and asked her what she was doing. She fell to the floor and began shaking. All of the players atrociously glimpsed at each other, incapable of movement. As soon as I was able to get my legs and mind functioning again, I ran to her. She was shaking violently, her face bloody from friction with the cement court, her arms scratched. I tried holding her, but I couldn’t, she kept slipping from my grip. I told the others to call 911, and say she’s having a seizure. The shaking ceased and she was unconscious. Her name’s Sarah, she’s 26, she’s lonely, she’s epileptic, and she needed someone. She has an average of four seizures a day. I believe that she needed me at that moment, just like I needed someone to be around. I believe that needing and being needed is a necessity in life.
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