Hidden lesson

Alexis Sendejas

I sat in an uncomfortable green chair on the fourth floor in the 18th room to the left. I was holding my day-old cousin in my arms.

She was small and red all over. To me, she was ugly. She was the newest addition to my family and I wasn’t happy about it.
The fact that I was there in an uncomfortable green chair on the fourth floor in the 18th room to the left celebrating the birth of a child was angering.
To put it bluntly: I hate kids. Their behavior and attitudes just never seemed appealing to me. I always tried my hardest to act like the adults and wondered, “How can people want these things? They are monsters!”
All of these thoughts came back to mind as I cradled my new cousin.
She started to get fussy and I was quick to give her back to my aunt. I excused myself and walked out into the hallway.
I paced up and down the eerily lit corridor. It was close to midnight and I could almost hear the heartbeats of the excited new mommies and daddies.

Good for them, right? No. I felt like a zebra at a horse show. I felt like I had been hit by a wrecking ball of emotion. All around me were men and women celebrating the birth of the one thing I despised.
Why was I there? Oh yeah, because it was the right thing to do, according to my mother.
I found a bench by an empty nurse’s station. I prayed that this visit would be over soon. Time passed, and I grew more irritated. Several nurses walked by me without much thought, but then one stopped.
She wore a bright smile on her dark, aged face and asked me logical questions. “Who are you here for? Is the baby healthy? Boy or girl?”
Her next question dug deep into my skin.
“Are you happy?”
I wanted to scream, “No! No freaking way, lady,” but all I could do was roll my eyes, smile and walk away. I was done pretending like I was happy here. I nagged my mom to go home, and eventually we left.
Later that night, I laid in my bed thinking about the nurse and her questions. I felt guilty for blowing her off, but not guilty enough to share the truth. But I couldn’t make myself feel better. I felt like I had done something terribly wrong. Sure, I had successfully dodged an awkward conversation, but the nurse was sweet enough to try to make conversation. She genuinely liked this part of the hospital. She wanted to be there and all she wanted to do was share that happiness.
How could I deny someone’s happiness for my own sake?
And then it hit me.

Somehow, the nurse had secretly taught me a lesson. I then knew what I had done wrong and what I needed to start doing. Just because something doesn’t make you happy, it doesn’t mean you can’t be happy for the person it is affecting. And what that thing was right now was my new cousin. I was too selfish to realize that my little cousin was bringing joy to my family, something that doesn’t happen too often.

In the end, the sweet old nurse was a blessing. She opened a door I never even knew was possible. Since then, I’ve tried to make a point to see the little baby, and I try to keep in mind one simple rule. I may not be happy or comfortable, but that doesn’t mean I should put down others and their happiness. No matter how out of place I might feel.