Remembering Pablo This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 17, 2012
It was 2004, I was 11 years old, and the school year was just beginning. At the time I went to a private school with only 50 or 60 kids. I knew them all, and we had tutors that came once a week to help us in whatever subject we were struggling with. Outside of school however, we had nothing to do, homework was easy, and I got bored quickly. One day a friend of my parents came to me with an offer to tutor a child at the Ronald McDonald house. So, having nothing better to do, I accepted.

Pablo was seven years old and battling a disease that was eating away at the bones in his legs. He was confined to a wheelchair, and because of frequent surgeries, he had metal rods that pierced his skin and attached straight to his bone. He was from Chile and understood both English and Spanish. He could read Spanish but not English.

I was in charge of teaching him how to read. Twice a week for seven months, I visited him. In that time we became great friends, and sometimes he would try to teach me to read Spanish. Once in a while I would stay for dinner or we would play a game or watch a movie.

I will never forget the day I went to see Pablo and witnessed a miracle.

I got to the Ronald McDonald house and once through the doors, I saw Pablo’s mother slowly and carefully pulling the metal rods from his legs. He was screaming in pain and begged her to stop, but she reassured him that it had to be done.

Now this may not seem to be a “miracle,” but after the rods were out, he stood up and took his first steps. I was blown away. He was happy beyond belief, and after a few more weeks he was healthy enough to return to Chile.

The last day I saw Pablo, he gave me a gift: a bracelet that matched the one he always wore when he went into surgery. They were made of beads with pictures of all the Catholic saints on them. They made him feel safe. They were handmade by his father before he left Chile, and to this day I keep mine in my bedroom.

In the years that followed, Pablo would call me every Christmas to say hi. One year his “gift” became a little more meaningful to me. On February 27, 2010, a massive 8.8 earthquake hit Santiago, Chile, where Pablo lived. I watched the news in fear as the death toll kept rising. I prayed for months leading up to Christmas. When the day finally arrived, there was no call.

To this day I pray that Pablo might be alive somewhere, that he may have escaped the disaster. But to this day there is no phone call, nothing, just my memories and a wooden bracelet.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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