The Unexpected Gift
| Miguel Sanchez pushed his twin sister Maria's wheelchair through the oncology ward. He just couldn't believe they were in this setting. He had thought they were done. But now they were saying the cancer had returned. The problem was that his family had just moved to Apple Valley from Alamogordo, New Mexico. It was unfortunate that they hadn't known Maria's cancer would return; now she would be in an unfamiliar place. Miguel glanced up in time to see a boy of about his own age pushing a girl down the hall ahead of them. As oncology nurses took the girls away for their respective chemo treatments, Miguel watched the nurse's interaction with the girl.
"Oh no, it's you again!" the girl said in mock disgust to the nurse who had greeted her.
"Now wait a minute, Miss Autumn. I'm the one who's in charge!"
"Oh, Josiah, you're so crazy!" Miguel sighed, wishing Maria had some sort of close connection like that. he stared at the ground in contemplative silence, so he was startled when someone touched his shoulder and addressed him.
"Hi, I'm Jamison. I just saw you standing here alone and wondered if you're in the same predicament as me."
"How do you figure that?" Miguel asked a little sharply. What right did this boy have to bother him? He was just meddlesome.
"I saw that you were here with someone, taking her to treatment. And I recognized the sadness; your expression mirrors my own sentiments." Okay, so maybe this Jamison character really wanted to help. Maybe Miguel could help him in return. After all, it was always better to travel difficult roads with someone. He offered a tentative smile and began to speak.
"Yeah, that's my twin sister, Maria. I'm Miguel, and we just moved here from the southwest part of the country. My dad is in the military, so we're often moving, but it was just two weeks after we moved here that we found out that Maria's cancer had returned. If we had known, maybe Mom, Maria and I would have stayed in Alamogordo. Still, money is tight, and..." His voice trailed off. He didn't need to share his problems with this person, who probably had enough worries of his own with his friend's cancer.
"Yeah, I understand. I truly comprehend your pain. Wile Autumn isn't my sister--she's the love of my life--I do understand how you feel. It's so difficult to watch someone you love suffer so greatly and not feel you can do a thing to help. She tells me that I'm more helpful than I can possibly understand, but I just don't know. I mean, if all I can do is hold her hand when they replace her IV, help her take her meds or sit beside her as she sleeps...well, it all seems so insignificant." Miguel could certainly understand Jamison's feelings.
"Yeah, I would trade places with Maria in an instant. I would take on her pain..." He was surprised when his lip began to quiver and his eyes filled with tears. He tried to turn away, but it was too late. Jamison put his hand on Miguel's shoulder, and the compassionate expression on his face spoke more than any words could have done. This was a person who truly understood Miguel's pain. Maybe they could become friends and support each other as they rallied around their loved ones. Miguel hadn't realized just how much he needed someone for support. He would never burden Maria or his parents with his thoughts and emotional turmoil, but this young man was someone who was offering just what he needed. Thank You, God, he prayed silently, before he raised his head to meet those eyes full of empathy.
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