The Boy in the Newspaper

I was reading through our Boston Globe on Sunday, engaged in this story about a boy who is undergoing experimental brain surgery to combat something known as Dystonia when I realized … this is a former student of mine! Alex was one of my students in writing class a few years ago, and although he had some difficulties walking, his disease had not progressed to the point where it apparently is now. He can barely walk or talk, and so his family — immigrants from Russia and deeply conservative and religious — are opting for experimental brain surgery that they hope will unlock the vibrant, intelligent and thoughtful young man from the confines of his unreponsive body.

I am torn with emotions — sad about the progression of his disease and in awe of his courage to keep on fighting. Needless to say, the physical act of writing was a chore for Alex — his hand did not always do what he wanted it to do — but he was always open for new ideas and new directions, and could articulate those ideas pretty clearly. His religious faith was always on the surface, allowing him to draw strength from his understanding of the world.

The article in the paper about Alex (and the photos they have there, too) reminds us of the different paths that so many lives take in the world. Perhaps, as both a father and a teacher, the story hit me hard. My heart goes out to Alex and his family, and I hope his faith sees him through.

Peace (in contemplation),

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