Maybe this is what happens when you've lived in a developing country all your life.
But tonight was different. As I hurried along on the sidewalk, I stopped dead in my tracks. There, right by the bottom of the stairs of the Boni MRT station, in front of 7-Eleven, was a mother holding a kid in her arms. This kid had an enlarged head due to hydrocephalus (a condition wherein fluid accumulates in the ventricles of the brain). And I don't know if it's because I'm a mother now, or because I recently hung out with a real-life good Samaritan who always does random acts of kindness (hi, Mark), or because I was still on a high from dance class and my defenses were down, but I felt compelled to help. I fished out a bill and put it in their bowl filled with coins. But that just felt useless.
I bought them some bread and water from the convenience store, then I crouched down and talked to the mom. The child's name is Rosemarie. She's 9. The mom (Rosalinda, if I remember right) can't work because she has to take care of her kids. "Sinasabi ng iba na ginagamit ko lang ang anak ko," she said, "eh paano naman ako magtatrabaho?" The noises from EDSA would drown out her voice, but from what I could gather, they would go to National Children's Hospital whenever fluid had to be removed from Rosemarie's head. There are plenty of people who are willing to help (in fact, while we were talking, quite a few handed Rosalinda some bills), but it's the doctors who don't want to operate on the little girl. So there's nothing that can be done. All I could do was meekly offer to pray for them.
I cried the rest of the way back to the office. I kept asking, why does this kid have to suffer? What is the point of it all? Being poor is hard enough without throwing an incurable sickness into the equation. I just cried and cried. And kept asking why. And I hated that there was nothing I could do.
I remembered a book I read a long time ago. It was about a man who didn't believe in God because of all the suffering in the world. A monk took him to see a gorgeous mosaic picture, and the monk explained that there are dark tiles and there are light tiles, but if you put them all together, it is a thing of beauty. The atheist scoffed at the idea of comparing suffering to a dark tile.
I felt that way as I walked and cried, walked and cried. Was this all just part of a bigger picture?
Then I remembered the little girl who asked Pope Francis during his Manila visit, "Why do children suffer?"
And if the pope doesn't have an answer, what hope do I have of figuring it out? He's right about one thing though. I've learned to weep again.
Say a prayer for Rosemarie please. And her mother.