I met a remarkable young person recently. A friend of my daughter’s, we visited her in the hospital where she remains months after a horrific car accident which killed one parent and injured the other. In addition to this gaping loss, at 17 she now knows that she will not walk again. It’s more than anyone at any age should have to bear.
As someone who suddenly learned that there is an invisible subculture, hidden and present every day in every hospital in the country, I know what it feels like to have your life turned instantly upside down. I know what it does to your sense of safety and normalcy to spend every day in fear of the doctor’s next pronouncement. To live your entire existence in a 12×20 room which beeps incessantly, with constant interruptions which simultaneously wake you and allow you to sleep. Still, I was a little apprehensive at what we would find on our visit. What do you say to a young person who’s already lost more in her short life than I have in my much longer one?
What we found left me in awe. We visited a girl who has retained a wicked sense of humor, which she unleashes regularly. I met a girl whose smile lights up a room. I met a girl facing her altered future with strength and resilience. I have a new hero.
There is much to worry about in our world today, and I regularly weary of the headlines. But our future lies in the hands of our children. Our fate rests with the generation which includes this brave young woman and my own bright and caring daughters. I believe in them. In them, there is much room for hope.
“Dear young people: Do not bury your talents, the gifts that God has given you! Do not be afraid to dream of great things!” –Pope Francis