A lesson in perseverance

I was walking to my homeroom one morning during my junior year of high school when I saw a woman struggling up the hill to our gym building.

Nothing beats the feeling when you make it to the top. Graphic by Steve Furtado.

Tall, but almost terrifyingly skinny, she held herself straight. Her legs could only carry her half a foot at a time. Her bags were weighing her down, and she had perspiration glistening on her face. Yet she continued taking each six-inch step toward the school, uphill.

The mob of students around me were completely ignorant of her presence, so I began to swim through the crowd in her direction. When I approached her, I asked her if she needed any help carrying her things. She judged me momentarily, decided I was trustworthy, and handed me her bag. As we continued to the gym about 200 yards away, she told me about her life.

She used to work at the school, and she told me about what she had done and what had changed. She wondered how all the people she had worked with were doing in their retired years. She had gone through thirty-something surgeries and ninety-something chemo treatments to fight the cancer that had been plaguing her for years. She kept stressing how blessed she was to have the opportunity to share her story.

You can imagine how simply awe-struck I was. This woman, who held herself so proudly, had gone through unimaginable hell to stand in front of our school and tell us what she had done. It was incredible. It was simultaneously terrible, because I knew that out of 2500 students, maybe 20 or 30 would take the time to listen and comprehend how remarkable this woman was.

As we reached the gym, she turned to me to take her bag and said, “God blessed me today by placing you on that hill. Thank you very much for helping me. You’ll be in my prayers.” Even three and a half years later, she still resides in the back of my mind, reminding me to persevere and remain faithful.