The Girl Under the Hat

By , San Jose, CA
Little girl
I remember when you first came into class.
Small, skinny, and pale.
I remember thinking,
“Wow, she’s small.”
And feeling sorry for you.
But what I remember the most about you,
Little girl
Is your hat.
It was small, black, and pretty.
Made with felt or something.
Plain, but pretty.

I remember thinking
Wait, hats aren’t allowed in class.
There’s that stupid school rule that says so.
But then I realized
That you were bald.
And then it finally hit me.
You had cancer.
Instantly the sorrow I felt for you before
Skyrocketed into space.
That you were only in 6th grade
And you had cancer.
But then I remember shaking it off for the moment
Because it was time for class.

Then I remember reading with you,
Little girl.
I remember as if it were yesterday.
I remember you struggled
And that made my heart sink even lower
Because I realized that you must have missed so much school
Because of your disease.
So I helped you, little girl.
And I remember you apologized to me,
Saying that you were a bad reader.
But little girl, I didn’t help you out of frustration.
I helped because I wanted to do all that I could
To ease your already hard life.
You were so humble, little girl,
You didn’t need to be.
It wasn’t your fault.

Little girl,
I remember you leaving for the rest of the day
Almost every day.
Because your disease was making its daily round on your system.
I remember
From that day on,
That my heart went out for you
Even farther
Every time you weren’t here.
Rather than when you were.

But I must remember today, little girl
That you were here.
Even though your disease blocked out much of your childhood,
You were here!
But then, little girl,
I remember the teacher announcing
That you had gone back to India for treatment,
That you were gone for the rest of the year.
I remember I was sad
For just a moment
That you were leaving, little girl,
Because I thought,
She’s going to be back next year, right?

Little girl,
I remember you died.
And you were only in 6th grade, little girl!
That’s like…
Eleven? Twelve?
I remember you were too young to go,
Little girl!
Too young to slip into that coma
That overpowered your fragile little body
And took your life!
I remember crying and shaking
Numb with shock
From the news of your cruel death
And those tears still fall today, little girl.

Tears from your
Brave, humble soul
I let the tears fall for you, little girl!
Tears of pain you kept in for so long
But were too brave to show
I let the tears fall for the millions of people
Kids
That carried this burden of a disease
That stole them away from their families
And into the heavens.

And it still kills me, little girl,
That I can’t remember the last time I saw your small pale face
And stared in awe at your small pretty black hat
That was with you every step of the way
Through treatment, medication,
But also through school,
And your real childhood.
That hat with which
You stared cancer in the face
And said
Back off! This is MY life!
And walked into sixth grade,
Invincible.

And how do I remember all this?
Because you live in me, little girl.
Your sick frail body is long gone
But your innocent soul still thrives in here
And in all those that you have touched.
I will live the life that you barely got to experience.
I will put on that little black hat
And face my challenges with a war face.
I will reach out to the world
And teach others the same things that you have taught me.
I will.
Remember.
The girl under the hat.





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