The news simply could not stop talking about the newest miracle, a girl by the name of Sharon Louise. Discovered nearly two years ago, she became a phenomenon practically overnight. She boasted the ability to cure effortlessly any physical ailment with nothing more than a touch. They scoffed at her at first, like I knew they would. But it wasn't very long before the desperate, the irrevocably and the terminally ill visited her, figuring they hadn't anything more to lose. I can never shake from my mind the face of the first man who came in. He had lost both of his legs in some war, and had recently fallen victim to cancer. The doctors couldn't cure it and so he came to see Sharon. The scene was positively beyond my capacity to explain, but suffice it to say that he left short a tumor and carried by his own two legs.
I remember the moments like that to try to convince myself that it's worth it, that letting the word get out about Sharon was the right thing to do. For all the lives that Sharon has saved or improved, I feel that she has lost her own. Ten hours out of every day are squeezed from her and everybody demands still more. So few of those she helps see that she's a human! To them I think she's a machine that only needs to be well-oiled. She's a fourteen-year-old girl! I doubt whether any child has had such grand expectations to fulfill, and coming from so many. It's a wonder we find time for her schooling.
Yet for all that's wanted from her, the occupation of her time and energy is hardly the most pressing aspect. Do you know how easily that importance, that power, goes to such a young girl's head? My god, the things she says sometimes. And to me! Her own mother! And as though only hearing her say it weren't bad enough, it's almost always remembered or recorded and then regurgitated by some ghoulish reporter that must live for such opportunities for public humiliation.
And I still don't believe the barbarism of businessmen and the cold prying of scientists. And I mustn't forget the crooked politicians, either. I do so much to protect her from them all. Intuition suggests that when I refuse them so unwaveringly, at least some of them would give up hope and that the harassments would become fewer given time. But none will get the message and, if anything, the disturbances only increase in number, frequency, and bold intrusiveness. It was only a few weeks ago that one local businessperson decided to block most of the routes to our home and set up barely-legal tolls on the others. He only resigned the pathetic operation when I threatened to move as well as publically defame and sue. Even then he seemed relevant to give up!
It's days like that when I detest my daughter's father the most. He should be around to help me deal with all of this. Just some father, at least - I think that particular man's involvement could only make the situation worse. I thought so highly of him up until he learned I was pregnant. How appropriate and predictable that the next time I heard anything of him was a phone call thirteen years later regarding the news of my daughter.
I've been asked countless times why I don't charge people for my daughter's healing. They insist that I have every right to, that I'm foolish or naïve not to. I disagree with them - a miracle is not mine to restrict others' access to by requiring payment, and as much as Sharon is my responsibility I dare not think of her as my property. I've been asked, then, why I don't allow her on interviews or television spots, and accept compensation for that instead. A fourteen-year-old involved in all that? The empty glamour and petty popularity contests? How horrid it would be for my daughter! Honestly, despite, the money hasn't been a problem. Many of those she helps give donations unsolicited, and though it isn't a fraction of what we might get if people were charged, it's enough that I don't need to work another job. And don't underestimate the amount of toil that goes into keeping my daughter safe and well. I'm justified in calling it a job, and it's tougher than any other I can think of.
Ironically, the one who most disregards the work I do must undoubtedly be the same person for whom the work is done. When I call to mind a girl who heals, if I except Sharon, I find the image of a graceful young woman possessing an endless reserve of compassion, wisdom, and strength. Or perhaps one more mature, and in some way professional, like I think of a physician. But my daughter is none of these things. Spoilt! Not by me, I defend, but by the miracle she carries. Who am I to instill humility in the girl who holds such power over life and death? But I try. Foolish, naïve me; I try and I know I will always try, even though I know it's not something I'll ever change.
"I want to be on TV, mom!"
I refused, shook my head. I was firm. But I also asked, "Why do you want it?"
She sighed, the same way that I do at the end of every hard day. "I'm lonely! All anyone wants from me is to touch them. It's all I'm worth to them!"
I bit my tongue. I wanted to shout at her. "And I'm worth so much less! Those people who come in don't know a thing about the troubles I face to make all of this possible for them, and for you. I don't have anyone else to do it for. Nobody wants me, and I don't have your touch to make them want me, even for that. So I do everything for you! You, Sharon! And you don't even know it. You're so absorbed in your own trials that you can't see the hells of others. Please! Won't you open your eyes!"
I didn't say it, though. Instead I assured her, as I always do, that being on television wouldn't solve her problems, that it would only make things harder. I would have also told her it would get better, that as time went on more and more people would see her humanity and lend her the sympathy and understanding I believe she deserves. But I didn't want to lie to her.
Oh, to be human again!