I like this story a lot, from The New York Times. It’s about a young man, Alex Carno, whose leg was shattered by a bullet who met a suburban Mom when he was in rehab:
With dizzying speed, the pace of his life slowed to a crawl. It now takes patience no teenager has to move to the door with a walker, to wait for a visit from a friend, to wait for someone to call someone who could arrange for the right paperwork.
But once or twice a week the phone rings or the apartment ringer sounds, and a woman with no official title or longstanding relationship to Alex tries to move his life into fast-forward.
Jenny Goldstock Wright met Alex in the recreation room of a Westchester rehabilitation hospital where her grandfather, 95, was recovering from a stroke. It came out that the two men — one young, one old — had both grown up in Harlem, three blocks away and 80 years apart. “It was like he was a neighbor or something,” Alex said.
Bonds form fast in hospitals: Families see each other’s pain and fear, and they understand it, from fierce firsthand experience.
“I just felt instantly he was a good kid, and lonely and scared,” said Ms. Goldstock Wright, a 39-year-old philanthropic adviser who lives in Katonah, N.Y. She doesn’t know all the details of Alex’s injury — he told her he had been shot over a Marmot winter jacket he was wearing — or even much about his past life. (The police said the case was still under investigation.)
“I don’t know, and I don’t care,” she said. “The system’s treating him like a throwaway. He deserves better.”
Real compassion demands action. It’s so much easier to write a check to charity — or not, or to ignore or turn away from another’s needs, especially if they don’t look or talk or behave like us or live in the same neighborhood.
I was a Big Sister for a while, to a 13-year-old girl also being raised by her grandmother in a poor and chaotic household. It’s not easy to enter the life of someone so much younger, make a commitment to them, let them count on you and know you have to keep showing up because they need you. It’s important and valuable and teaches both people a lot about themselves. But it’s challenging and for that reason alone, many people shy away from such intimacy.
I also live in Westchester, whose affluence can be stifling and smug, an insular world of Range Rovers and enormous mansions.
Kudos to Wright for doing the right, kind thing.