Bright Heart

Bright Heart

From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul

Bright Heart

The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last year around Halloween, I was invited to participate in a carnival for Tuesday’s Child, an organization that helps childrenwith the AIDS virus. Iwas asked to attend because I’mon a television show; Iwent because I care. I don’t think that most of the kids recognized me as a celebrity. They just thought ofme as a big kidwho came to playwith them for the day. I think I liked it better that way.

At the carnival they had all kinds of booths. I was drawn to one in particular because of all the children that had gathered there. At this booth, anyone who wanted to could paint a square. Later that square was going to be sewn together with the others, to make a quilt. The quilt would be presented to a man who had dedicated much of his life to this organization and would soon be retiring.

They gave everyone fabric paints in bright, beautiful colors and asked the kids to paint something thatwouldmake the quilt beautiful. As I looked around at all the squares, I saw pink hearts and bright blue clouds, beautiful orange sunrises and green and purple flowers. The pictures were all bright, positive and uplifting. All except for one.

The boy sitting next to me was painting a heart, but it was dark, empty, lifeless. It lacked the bright, vibrant colors that his fellow artists had used.

At first I thought maybe he took the only paint that was left and it just happened to be dark. But when I asked him about it, he said his heart was that color because his own heart felt dark. I asked him why and he told me that he was very sick. Not only was he very sick, but his mom was very sick also. He said that his sickness was not ever going to get better and neither was his mom’s. He looked straight into my eyes and said, “There is nothing anyone can do that will help.”

I told him I was sorry that he was sick and I could certainly understand why he was so sad. I could even understand why he had made his heart a dark color. But . . . I told him that it isn’t true that there is nothing anyone can do to help. Other people may not be able to make him or his mom better . . . but we can do things like give bear hugs, which in my experience can really help when you are feeling sad. I told him that if he would like, I would be happy to give him one so he could see what I meant. He instantly crawled into my lap and I thought my own heart would burst with the love I felt for this sweet little boy.

He sat there for a long time and when he had had enough, he jumped down to finish his coloring. I asked him if he felt any better and he said that he did, but he was still sick and nothing would change that. I told him I understood. I walked away feeling sad, but recommitted to this cause. I would do whatever I could to help.

As the day was coming to an end and I was getting ready to head home, I felt a tug on my jacket. I turned around and standing there with a smile on his face was the little boy. He said, “My heart is changing colors. It is getting brighter . . . I think those bear hugs really do work.”

On my way home I felt my own heart and realized it, too, had changed to a brighter color.

Jennifer Love Hewitt
Party of Five

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