“But don’t leave!” These were the last few words I heard before being escorted out of the pediatric cancer playroom at Sinai hospital in Baltimore. The two hours of volunteer flew by and it was time for the children to say goodbye to me. We had painted pictures of pumpkins, splashed in a bowl of water, laughed at each other, and “cooked” a lovely BBQ. In two hours I had felt love for people that took years to achieve in other relationships. Two hours once a month, was all that I was allowed to experience while volunteering, but I am more than lucky; I am blessed. I know it was fate to meet the patients this past weekend, and this became even more evident after reading through the verses of “Formula” and “Old Walt” by Langston Hughes.
The poem “Formula” makes me feel slightly uncomfortable while reading it, because I could relate the rhymes directly to the cancer wing at Sinai. I had been putting together a simple “Woody from Toy Story” puzzle with a six-year-old boy named Nicalious. His attention span lasted about as long as his age, except in seconds, not years. He began to run around the room with the puzzle pieces as wings. He then gave me my own set of wings and we began to soar. In lines 3-4 and 16-17, Langston Hughes writes “Soaring thoughts and birds with wings”. I was deeply touched by this line because it made me feel right at home. The feelings that I had experienced during that awesome flight with Nicalious can be with me every time I read “Formula”. Another instance that made this poem so relatable was in lines 10-14. Hughes writes, “The Muse of Poetry should not care that earthly pain is everywhere”. This rhyming added pleasantness during the mention of pain. This line also made me empathize with the patients I had encountered. I wish that these children, whom I all loved after only knowing them two hours, could have their memories erased of the horrible things they have been through. I wish that these patients could experience the “earthly pain” that is “everywhere”.
I relate to the poem “Old Walt”, because I too “went finding and seeking” while in search of a purpose at Loyola. I had been a member of a club called “Take the Grey Away” last year, but had not participated much. When I received the opportunity to be co-president, I jumped right away at the idea. I thought, what could be better than brightening the days of little children who have cancer? This weekend was our first trip of the year to Sinai. Just like Walt I did not know what I was seeking, but going to the hospital made me realize I was doing what I was meant to do-make people happy. In similarity to Walt, I was “pleasured equally in seeking as in finding”. This whole process of discovering what I wanted, experiencing it, and looking back on it made me a better person. The final product of who I am after the service trip would not have been the same had I not found pleasure in all the aspects-including seeking. I cannot wait to see what the next few months of volunteering brings. I hope I will get the opportunity to soar every visit!