I began my community service when I was a freshman in high school. Little did I know that I would make a life-long friend out of it.
One Thursday after school I went to the Mt. Sinai Hospital in Stoughton, Massachusetts, not far from my house. I remember I was a little nervous, but more apprehensive than anything. I was to visit a patient named Dora who has muscular dystrophy and has been in that hospital for fifteen years. I knew little about her except she was a sweetheart and she loves Elvis. I climbed four flights of stairs to the respiratory care unit where Dora's room was. Finally I was there - Room 238 with an Elvis poster on it. I walked in and found a little, middle-aged woman lying in her bed watching "General Hospital." She gave me a great big smile. Despite the fact that she is paralyzed and has to breathe through a tube, I had never seen such a brilliant smile. That smile alone was enough to take all my nervousness away. We began with small talk, well, actually I did most of the talking - about the weather and where I lived. After an hour, I told Dora I had to leave because my ride was waiting. She frowned but understood and as I got up to leave, I told her I'd see her in a week.
Two years passed and Dora and I grew very close. Then I found out I was moving to a different town. When I told Dora, she began to cry. When I said good-bye the morning I was moving, she cried again. I told her it was only an hour away and promised I'd be back.
When I am alone and have time to myself, I think about my friend Dora and hope she is well. Often I thought it was a burden to go every week and talk for an entire hour, but knowing that she is in that hospital every day visited only by her family, I convince myself that it probably has more meaning than I know. I feel I made a difference in her life. In fact, I know she's made a difference in mine. I see Dora only once a month now, but there isn't a single day that I don't stop and think about her. fl
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.