Colorful Concrete, Beautiful Outlook

April 27, 2011
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For the first fifteen years of our lives, Danny and I had lived within five blocks of each other and neither of us knew about the other. I guess you could say I lived in my own little bubble, where my world was fine and dandy and I had very few worries. One Saturday afternoon with a Ke$ha song as my soundtrack for the moment, I went for a jog around my neighborhood in my Victoria Secret PINK (but really green) sweatpants. The same old sights passed me by: the Johnsons’ returning from their weekly grand grocery store excursions, the posse of twelve year olds a block away shouting about someone cheating in their incredibly small—but very serious—football game, and Mrs. Valentine rocking on her porch, romance novel in hand and glasses perched perfectly at the peak of her pointy nose. But I seemed to speak too soon about consistency. In the midst of my obnoxious singing, I stepped on something that set my face up for a friendly meet-and-greet with the pavement. Looking around for the culprit, I found a giant piece of sidewalk chalk as red as the blood escaping from my numerous “souvenirs” from my lovely trip. I expected to find a small girl with bouncy pigtails giggling her little heart out, but instead I suddenly stared up at bottomless blue eyes with pesky strands of wavy locks interrupting their depth. He stretched out his multicolored, dusty hand to help up me and my embarrassed self. Now I wasn’t only red from my cuts, but now I was red in the face. Fantastic. Focusing back on the real situation at hand, I was itching to ask about the puzzling predicament on my mind: Why on earth is this guy outside by himself playing with sidewalk chalk? Not trying to be condescending here, but isn’t the age on that stuff around five to twelve years old? Anyway, he told me to wait, and he would go grab some Band-aids and Neosporin. Sitting outside alone for a solid fifteen minutes made me question why I had complained about routine in the first place. Chalk Boy came jogging back with the medical supplies and—wait, hold on—a camera? He must be kidding. I know I look ridiculous and all, but I am in no mood to be photographed and become a fifteen minute Facebook sensation. Right there and then, I pretty much just lost all proper social decorum.
“Ok first of all, who are you? Second, would you mind explaining the reason for all this chalk? Third, what’s with the camera?”
Chalk Boy just smiled as if he expected me to inquire about the incredibly strange sight of this whole event. “My name is Danny, and I’m awfully sorry about causing you to fall. Well, the chalk and the camera explanations somewhat go hand and hand. Be right back.”
Was he seriously going back into his house again? I must have been here for a good hour and counting. This better be good.
Chalk Boy—I mean Danny—came running back with something else in his hand. A picture this time. “This is my sister, Angelina. Isn’t she beautiful?” he said beaming.
Now, I’m a pretty smart girl, but I was still utterly lost in this explanation.
“About three years ago, Angelina was diagnosed with a serious brain tumor. She struggled for over two years, but after that her body could not fight anymore. Angelina passed away on November 15. It has been a tremendously difficult time for my family with all of us trying to find a way to cope with the loss. Angelina used to love art, and simply painting a picture for her wall would put a smile on her face. Through these memories, I found my way to cope with my grief. Every Sunday, I sit out here for a couple of hours drawing a huge picture for her. I figured if I draw it out here with chalk, it would be easier for her to see if from heaven. You tripped on one of my many sticks of red chalk I was using to draw a rose—Angelina’s favorite flower—today. Also, I brought out my camera because I was just about finished my drawing and needed to photograph it. When I go visit my sister’s at the cemetery, I like to bring all my recent photos to decorate her grave because I know it would make her smile.”
As I attempted to remove my foot from my mouth, tears started to well up in my eyes. Here I am with no worries, just passing indifferently through life, and this boy—even with so much grief and hardship in his life—can find a way to bring joy to his life and the lives of countless others.
From that day on, Danny and I grew to become unbelievably close. His stories and his talents continue to amaze me to this day. I have grown to appreciate the blessings that I have instead of dwelling on the unanswered prayers. After all, while helping Danny with his chalky masterpieces, I feel like I have grown to know one of those little angels up there.

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