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Not Like Them

“A fight is a fight, no matter what you are fighting.” -Unknown

Maddie stared at the quote at the top of the paper. Why was this quote so difficult to understand? She was good at English. She had an 107.4% in the class last semester. She knew she should be in Honors English, not the regular English she was currently stuck in. She could write an essay on anything. Yet now, she was stumped. “There is no way I can do this,” she thought to herself. The bell rang, waking her up from her own thoughts. She grabbed her things and left for the city bus.

“Hey, Maddie? How are you?”Meredith, an aging African-American nurse, asked Maddie as she walked through the doors of the hospital. Maddie spent two days a week at the local Children's Hospital, volunteering to keep her mind off of her own problems. “I'm fine. Thanks,” she mumbled back. “No, you are not fine,” Meredith countered, walking over to Maddie to hand her the badge and uniform. “What is going on?” Maddie sighed. “I want to stop volunteering here,” she replied. Meredith's expression became confused. “Why on Earth would you do that?” Maddie turned away. “I'm not like these kids,” Maddie replied. “I don't have cancer or some rare, incurable heart condition that could kill me any day. I have a disease, sure. But not one that is anything like what these kids are fighting off. I just...” Maddie paused, struggling to find the right words. “I just feel like my mind is controlling my life. I don't want to learn how to cope with this. I want to learn how to defeat it.” Meredith shook her head. “I need to go now,” she said. “But before you leave, I want to talk to you again.” Maddie nodded. “Fine,” she replied, resigned to the fact that there was no way of avoiding this. She went to the locker room, put her things away, and went upstairs to the oncology ward.

“Hi, my name is Allen,” a little boy said as Maddie walked into the room. It was filled with “Get Well” cards and balloons. “Hi, Allen. I'm Maddie,” she replied as she sat down in a chair next to his bed. “Want to see my drawing?” he asked, a huge smile plastered on his face despite the oxygen tube running into his nose. Maddie nodded. It was her job to make the kids feel comfortable and not like they were in a hospital. Allen turned the picture towards her, which was a drawing of an open sky. “I want heaven to look like that,” he said. “If God wants me to die now, this is what I want heaven and the world to look like when I die.” Allen looked at Maddie. “The doctors say I may not have a long time to live. I got to go to Disneyland with my family when I was feeling better. I also want New York. But then I got sick again.” He paused, started to draw another picture, then looked at her. “Do you believe in God?” he asked. Maddie nodded. “Sure do,” she replied. Allen nodded too, considering something. “I want God to heal me, because I don't want to die and hurt my family,” he told her. “God can do miracles, you know.” Maddie nodded. “Allen, do you think you can answer a question for me?” she asked him. “Sure.” Maddie took in a deep breath. “Can God heal a disease that isn't physical? Like say, a mental disorder?” Allen considered her question. “What kind of disorder?” Maddie shrugged. “I don't know, maybe Generalized Anxiety Disorder?” Allen nodded. “He can. But whoever has the disease has to believe that He can heal them and that things will be alright. God is capable of doing anything.” Maddie smiled as she took what he said into mind. Maybe Allen knew more about having faith than she did. “Thanks for the answer, Allen. I know someone who would really appreciate it.” Maddie got up and turned to go. “Wait,” Allen said. Maddie turned around. “This is for you,” he told her, handing her a picture. He had drawn her in an open field, her white dress and black hair swirling with the wind. “God will heal you. Just believe.” Maddie stared at him, dumbfounded. “How did you know it was me?” “It was obvious,” Allen replied. “God sent me this image to show you that one day you will be free.” Maddie smiled. “Thanks, buddy,” she told him. Allen smiled. “No problem. No problem at all.”

Maddie walked out of the locker room, holding Allen's picture to her heart. Meredith caught sight of her and walked over. “Maddie, I want to tell you something,” she told her. “What?” Maddie said, the sarcasm coming out of her mouth like a waterfall. “To have faith? Because I just had some kid tell me that and he will probably die from cancer.” Meredith shook her head. “I'm sorry,” Maddie sighed. “It's just... I have a mental disorder. Or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, to be exact. It isn't considered to be deadly as far as I have heard. I see these kids and they could die at any time. They are fighting off something that could kill them. I am fighting off something that won't kill me.” Meredith shook her head again. “I know this, dear,” she told Maddie. “But here is the thing. You are dying.” “What?” “You are slowly killing yourself by thinking this way. A fight, honey, is a fight, no matter what or who you are fighting. You are in a fight for control over your life. You are just like these kids. Your problem just isn't as visible as those kids' problems. You will win. Someday, you will realize that you fought against something that many people will never fight against. You will win someday. Do you understand?” Meredith asked Maddie. Maddie nodded, smiling. “Yeah, I understand.”





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