Last night I had a resident ask me to edit her paper for a peer review. I obliged, and she brought me five notebook pages filled with blue ink. She told me the prompt was “A Life Changing Experience”, and I rolled my eyes. The prompt was so overdone, and usually the stories describe the heart breaking experience of the death of a dog or break up.
I began reading, and it was clear she was fresh out of high school. I began marking her paper up with pink highlighter with her eyes intently looking on. I explained to her that oct of what I would write would be questions or sentence restructuring. I went back to the paper, and the story began.
When she was six years old, her brothers, herself, and her mother was in a car accident. Her mom didn’t make it. They were placed with their grandparents, who were not the most upstanding people. Her grandfather was addicted to several drugs, was an alcoholic, beat the children, and cheated on his wife multiple times. Needless to say, it was not a good environment. Her older cousin began molesting her, and she tried committing suicide when she was 7. When her school finally intervened after noticing the bruises and being alerted of the attempted suicide, she was placed in foster homes, separate from her brothers. The foster homes made it clear that she was only there for the money. They told her she was ugly and worthless, and continued to abuse her. She tried to take her life again when she was 15. A few months later, her big brother was stabbed 27 times at a party, and she held him in her arms as he died. A year after that, her little cousin was shot in a drive-by shooting.
And somehow, this girl managed to make it to college.
Somehow, this girl survived.
I handed her the marked up paper, she took it, and ran out the door while saying thank you. And then I huddled up in a little ball and cried for her. I cried because I am so selfish and undeserving. There are times when I think my life sucks. There are times when I think to myself “How the hell did I get through that hell?”. And there are moments like these that make me realize what I went through wasn’t hell. It was heaven compared to what she went through. There are times when I feel like I deserve so much more, and then stories like these pass through my life and puts me right back in my place.
This girl deserves so much more than I ever will.