He was tall, lean, and young. When he approached me, he hugged me. Then, his mother hugged us both. A three-person club sandwich.
He must’ve been a foot taller than I was. His voice squeaked with adolescence. His skin was freckled. He had a long neck.
He recognized me.
“I liked your books, sir,” he said, through a nervous stutter.
Sir? No way. Such titles are reserved for men who wear penny loafers when fishing.
“I read them all when I was in the hospital,” the boy went on. “I kinda got to know you, and it was like we were friends.”
His mother tells me his story. It’s a long one, and it’s not mine to repeat. He has the determination of a saint and a long road ahead of him. He suffers more than other kids his age. And he might not survive his struggle.
Before he walked away, he told me something. Something that stuck with me.
“You know what I do when I’m down?” he said. “I list ten things I love every
day. I write’em on paper. My dad told me to do that.”
He tapped his finger against his head. “Gotta keep on thinking ‘bout things I love.”
I was mute. I couldn’t seem to find words. I noticed a large moon-shaped scar beneath his hairline. I tried to say something, anything, but I just smiled like an idiot.
He hugged me one more time. His mother took his arm, they walked away. The boy walked with a pronounced limp, holding his mother for balance. And I can’t quit thinking about him.
On the off-chance that he is reading this, I’ve come up with a few things I love:
1. I love Mexican food. In fact, I have had a lifelong love affair with it. A Mexican man I used to work with with used to make a dish called “chilaquiles verdes.” Before work,…