“God Bless You”
I always say it, even though it may be overused, confusing and even controversial. I used to wonder why we say it. My mom always reminded me, whenever somebody sneezes it’s common courtesy to say “God Bless You”. Sure, Mom says I have to, so I will, but why? I mean a sneeze is a sneeze, why does god have to be involved. I didn’t understand. That all changed on the first day of the first grade. I was tremendously nervous as I walked through the door, and into the classroom. My teacher, Ms. Pierce, had us all sit down on the ground for “community circle.” The point of community circle was to get us better acquainted with our class mates. We had to recite the pledge of allegiance first. Right in the middle of the pledge of allegiance, I sneezed. Everyone stopped what they were doing and just stared. They stared straight at me and I didn’t hear a single bless you. I felt my heart sink, and I just stood there red cheeked, for what seemed to be an eternity. Finally, my teacher said, “God bless you Jack.” I was relived that someone had said it, but still hurt that none of my classmates had spoken up. I felt like I was not cared about, I meant nothing. I mean, it was common courtesy right? Was I not good enough for common courtesy? Feeling the pain I felt then, I decided that I would always say “God bless you”.
My second memorable run in with the magic three words came in fourth grade. A new student, Gustavo, from El Salvador, sat in the room. Sitting in the class on the first day, Gustavo looked out of place. Everyone was in little groups, talking about their summers and their expectations for the new year. Gustavo just sat there all alone in the middle in the room, not saying a word. The teacher, Ms. Foskett, called attendance, and then led us in a “Get to know you” type of exercise. During this activity, Gustavo sneezed, rather loudly, and then glanced down towards the floor. I said, “God bless you” but he didn’t even look up. When the bell rang for first recess, Gustavo approached me. He walked up to me and said, “thanks for that in there.” I did not know what he was thanking me for, and he could see the confusion on my face. “God bless you.” he said, making it clear of what he was thankful for. I remember thinking how such a little gesture helped Gustavo feel a little more secure on his day. It wasn’t because he felt like he had been blessed by god. It was because he knew he had someone who cared, who acknowledged him, who was looking out for him, and who had his back; and that was all he needed.