Blue-eyed Hope

Some nights as I lie in bed, I see a set of six-year-old blue eyes staring up at me. They’re sad eyes – knowing eyes – of a boy who had the weight of the world on very young eyelids.

Strange, I think, how one day with him has imprinted a memory that I will never forget. And a lesson that I will remember forever.

I met Alex six years ago in a Los Angeles elementary school. He was an inner city child, complete with a stereotypical set of inner city parents.

I was visiting his classroom, trying to figure out if I wanted to spend my life as a teacher. And I arrived just in time for story hour.

I took my place on a tattered rug and smiled as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed cutie named Alex climbed into my lap.

“Do any of you have stories to share?” asked the teacher in both English and Spanish.

A few of the children raised their hands and shared the highlights of their weekend activities.

One made a trip to the library and was able to check out four books. Another spent a day with his older brother playing basketball. Yet another made her first trip to the zoo.

But Alex sat silent.

“Alex, what did you do this weekend?” questioned his teacher.

“I cried,” said Alex. “Somebody shot my mom.”

My heart plunged into despair.

Alex looked at me. Tears were beginning to fall from his face. I felt my own beginning to form.

I held Alex tight as the teacher began to pray. She prayed for Alex. She prayed for his mother. She prayed for continued bilingual teaching. And she prayed for me.

Later, she explained that in L.A. the rules of prayer in schools are overridden by a child’s need for hope.

Hope. Alex needed hope.

I spent the rest of the day with Alex trying to foster hope in any way I could. I learned about his interests, his family life and his pain.

I assured him that he had a future. I told him to never stop dreaming. And I urged him to believe that he would someday do wonderful things.

At the end of the day, I looked into Alex’s big blue eyes for the last time.

He held my hand and wouldn’t let go.

“Will you be my new mommy?” he said.

“I can’t do that,” I replied. “But I’ll be your friend forever, and I’ll never forget you.”

Alex smiled. “I love you,” he whispered as I hugged him goodbye.

“Never lose hope,” I replied. “Never.”

I never learned Alex’s last name nor what happened to his mother. I never saw or heard from him again.

But I have hope that Alex is going to be a wonderful person. And I’ll forever be grateful to him for teaching me the importance of hope.

I don’t think that it was an odd coincidence that I could be there for Alex to offer him hope that Monday.

And while I decided teaching wasn’t my calling, I do think a large part of me is called to give hope – at least in some form.

“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air … but only for one second without hope.”
– Hal Lindsey