Up Front and Personal

Counting My Blessings

by Msgr. Steven A. Ferrari

I was walking out of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital on East 74th Street in Manhattan on a cold mid-December afternoon, just a week before Christmas. I had received very good results from my six-month checkup for the cancer I had survived after intense chemotherapy three years ago. 

I noticed right in front of me at the exit doors a quite tall young man and a very small child who looked to be about two years old. They walked side by side, not holding hands.  I noticed that the boy walked very well for a little toddler, and wore the required face mask, plus an over-the-ears woolen cap.

Catching snippets of their conversation, I was also amazed how well-spoken the little boy was, his vocabulary being quite mature for one so young. Enchanted, I questioned the man as to the child’s age. “He’s five,” he replied. “He’s small for his age, but he talks like a 50-year-old. He’s had a bone marrow transplant. His numbers are good, though. He’s doing well.”

I was startled and shaken. When the boy faced me I could see that he had no hair under his hat. When I questioned, the man asserted that he was the child’s father. I asked the boy’s name, and was told it was “Krishna.”

Not knowing what religion or faith, if any, they may profess, and not wishing to offend, I simply mentioned that I was a minister. “May I give him a blessing?” The father agreed, and, as the boy looked up at me with beautiful wide-open eyes in his pale face, I extended my right hand over the little man. I prayed aloud for his health and healing, and that he would grow up to be as tall as his daddy. His father thanked me. Then, a “Merry Christmas!” and we were off on our separate ways.

I walked towards the Second Avenue subway with tears in my eyes. Here is a 5-year-old who has been through so much in his short life. How can I, at nearly 70, dare complain about my aches and pains, when this little guy has endured so much more than I’d ever know?

Then and there, I thanked God for this chance meeting. I needed a good jolt to once again help me appreciate my many blessings. I continue to pray for Krishna and for the way, in a few short moments, he so touched my life.

Msgr. Ferrari is the pastor of St. Teresa’s Parish, Woodside.