Today I was at a school teaching computer skills, and my last session was with a kindergarten teacher. As a part of the training, I showed her how to access an online video collection, and she wondered aloud if there were any clips of Martin Luther King. There were, and together we watched him as he made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. At the end, I said to her, “I wish it were really like that.” She said, “Yes, I know. I wish color didn’t matter, but there are other prejudices too that I wish people didn’t have.”
We talked for a long time, and she told me the story of her little daughter who has sickle-cell anemia. When the little girl, now ten, was only six years old, she had a stroke that has left her confined to a wheelchair and with very limited vision. She had been and still is a bright girl with a big vocabulary and an ability to understand and express a lot of things, but she is not treated the same anymore since the stroke.
This mother talked about the pain in her own heart being almost too much to bear, and that she wanted parents every day to treat their children as though it were their last day together. It was all I could do not to lose total control and just sob. I don’t think there’s any worse anguish than seeing your child suffer, and you could tell this mother’s heart had been shattered. But in the past four years she and her daughter have squared their shoulders and begun to reach out to other people, to give speeches on heart disease and stroke and the need to donate blood.
One of their recent talks was to a group of students at the university, at the end of which her little girl said to them, “We’re going over to the blood donation place now. If you want to give blood, but you’re afraid, I will hold your hand.” Then this sweet lady said to me, “I know it’s not politically correct to talk about Jesus, but I tell you, without him we never would have made it through this.” God, I’m so glad she has him. And that she wants to say so out loud.