It’s A Big Universe Out There

Eileen - Austin, Texas
Entered on March 24, 2005
Age Group: 30 - 50
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Many years ago when I was three years old, I was pretending to be a trapeze artist on our backyard swing set. It was August in Texas and the metal seat was more than warm to the touch. Sweet breezes helped me imagine my impressive feats within the fantasy tent. I hung upside down by my feet as they wrapped around the chains. I smiled and waved to the audience below.

And then I fell. I, the beautiful wonder on high, fell the 12 inches to the carpet grass below. The fall resulted in a cracked neck bone and of course a rushed trip to the hospital.

The hospital ward for children in 1959 was a different place than it is today. Rows of barred beds lined the room. Beds with bars on the sides and on the top resembling cages for the sick. A metal swinging door separated the ward from the other areas. There were no colorful photos or clowns or large stuffed animals. There were no games or songs or things to entertain us. We were there to mend and in that age mending was serious business.

Parents did not stay in the ward with the children. Parents would come and coo and visit and then leave the children to the task of getting better.

As a result of my injury I was not allowed to move or to speak. Of course telling a very active three-year-old to stay still is a nonsense activity. So to make sure of my stillness I was strapped down to the bed and my neck was put in traction. Inside of my sick cage I was to remain until my body was better. Then I could return home.

I remember church bells wafting in through the open windows. I remember being cold at night but as I was not allowed to speak I suffered quietly. Each day my mind would wander where my body could not — the imagination of my three-year-old brain was my imminent domain.

A child next to me was very ill. I awoke one night to see a large winged creature next to her bed. The creature held its finger up to its lips as if to tell me to be quiet. I looked at the creature and knew it was there to take the little girl away. There was no good or bad about what the angelic host was doing. It was simply there to do its job. I understood this at three and I work valiantly to understand it now at 49.

The next morning the little girl’s bed was empty.

Now maybe it’s because I suffered an injury of the head/ neck kind at an early age, but I believe in everything. I believe in angels, I believe in fairies, I believe in ghosts. I believe in good and I believe in bad. I believe that everything is undeniably real. It’s a big universe out there — and everything is.