It had been a normal spring day. I was playing outside with my sister Monica and my little brother Liam while my mom watched and my dad planted flowers in our garden. Suddenly, my mom started screaming. Liam had managed to hit his head on some part of our swing set, and was now crying and bleeding. It was the scariest day of my life. I wept and screamed for my dad. I had a strong reliance on my parents to help me at all times. That was my instinct at age eight. I think that others instincts emerge in times of crisis and true colors are revealed.
There are stronger examples of this truth in my life. The first event started on a typical day in second grade that soon turned into a national tragedy. It was 9/11. After watching the towers burn, I knew that many people had died, but since I was only seven, it didn’t connect. Then I found out that the father of Rachel, little girl in my sister’s kindergarten class had died. The family had just moved from California and he had been flying back to get more of their things. Her mother was pregnant, a baby who would now never meet her father. I didn’t understand how this could happen. Why would people want to kill Rachel’s father? What had he done to them? I understand now: he was killed because he was an American, as if that was the only way that he could possibly define himself, not as a father, brother, husband or friend. I never met him, although he was to be my neighbor, just three houses down. His wife, Patti, didn’t give up. Five years later she went to Afghanistan, to visit and help Afghan widows. This seems noble to me. Even though there were millions of people in the US that needed help, Patti knew that they needed it more.
Another example would be Julie McAvinn. She was my neighbor and I had known her ever since I was little. Julie was the mother of three kids, Chris, Paige and Jilly and they were very important to her. Julie was always laughing and joking, always filled with energy. When I found out Julie was sick, that she had cancer and that she had been in the hospital for the last month, I couldn’t believe it. How could someone who was so full of life possibly be dying? I thought of what that would do to Chris, Paige and Jilly. When my mom picked me up from school one day with her eyes red from crying, I knew.They reacted in the same way that Patti did. They created the Julie Fund. The Julie Fund is an organization that helps women and their families pay for cancer treatment.
These people are living examples that in troubled times people’s true colors emerge.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.