I was sitting on the L at 14th, waiting for the train to start on its destination. I looked to my right: an old man reading the paper. To my left: empty seats, and further down a baby in a stroller facing his mother.
His mom’s head bobbed as she dozed off. Soon he kicked, and her head came up straight again. When he cooed I wanted to hug him. When he turned and smiled at me, I saw his cleft lip. He was still adorable, and when he showed all his teeth, he reminded me of my favorite junk food of my youth: ring-shaped cheesy poofs with four little protrusions at the front. They tasted really good.
I wondered whether his gums got cold when the wind blew. I thought of him in his smile, oblivious, and wondered at what point the feelings of hopelessness and self-loathing would afflict him. A curse, he’ll call it then, as he will read it in his mother’s eyes.
But does God really give us curses? A curse yes, because it makes life difficult, and it makes you wonder why He’d get the idea of doing that. But is it also an opportunity? A key to gaining greater depth of character, greater compassion, greater understanding…a stepping stone, a tool itself that will enable this kid to understand and help others? Most spoiled, beautiful children don’t get that chance, the poor things.
The train still sighed and sputtered. In the bright white light, the baby cooed and smiled at me again.
Does God hand out curses? I thought again then. We both waited.