I anxiously wait as the number seven button turns to red and the elevator doors close and take me into a place where two worlds will intertwine. The duffle bags filled with clothing and toiletry items for my brother become cumbersome in my trembling hands and gradually slip to my fingertips, but somehow remain dangling. As I exit the elevator, I immediately inhale the ever-present aroma of hospital supplies and mediocre, cafeteria food. I sense a feeling of pain and suffering as I stride past the occupied rooms of ill patients and become saddened as I hear their shrill cries of misery. My heart throbs more rapidly, because I know that a few doors down, my brother, Timothy, similarly lies confined in a white-walled, sterile room attached to IV’s that continually pump antibiotics throughout his vulnerable body. I enter the anteroom where I put on a hospital gown, face mask, shoe covers, and gloves so as to reduce his exposure to infectious diseases. When I am fully gowned up, I enter his room and see him resting in his new adjustable bed, recovering from his second bone marrow transplant.
In the summer before my Junior year of high school, the hospital became my second home. This room serves as the new dining room emitting the smell of my mother’s home cooked chicken pot pie and overflowing with piles of my summer Biology assignments and English summer reading books. As the summer passes and the school year arrives, the opportunity to spend time at the hospital becomes infrequent and I am determined to make time for regular visits. What appears to be a dilemma between visiting my brother and pursuing my academic endeavors turns into a balancing act of my two commitments. As I encourage him, his strength grows, and in turn he encourages me to continue pursuing my academic goals. These visits are no longer viewed as a sacrifice, but are becoming a time when both of us are gaining tremendous boldness through obstacles that appear insurmountable. I scan this all too familiar room and observe that as the weeks pass, not only have the once dull walls transformed into a collage of brightly colored drawings imparting hope and brightness to room 750, but also I too am beginning to adapt to the new struggles of my rigorous schedule.
Although the first bone marrow transplant failed and could have potentially taken his life, fortunately, Timothy was given a second chance when my sister became his donor. While he recuperates, my parents, siblings, and I sit by his bedside day in and day out offering our support every step of the way. As the new marrow travels throughout his entire body in an effort to destroy the old, Timothy endures excruciating pain but feels comfort by our presence. This new hope flows through me and I too am rejuvenated. The fatigue I feel in my own body and mind subsides allowing me to remain focused on keeping my academic standards high.
I found an inner strength that enabled me to balance the love for my brother along with maintaining high academic standards. During my brother’s 104 day hospitalization, I watch his spirit begin to revive, enabling my own inner man to be strengthened. My responsibilities begin to grow as I now have to take on the role as the eldest brother in Timothy’s absence. I willingly provide a strong shoulder for my younger brother to depend on and an even stronger shoulder for my sister to cry on during such an emotional time. What could have become a greater distress has further developed my personal growth.
I saw this experience as an opportunity for personal improvement and by observing Timothy I learned that through hard work and dedication, success can be achieved. I know that I am capable of attaining greater levels of achievements through great adversities.