Darnell asked me to prom every day.

I tried to make excuses.

You’ll have more fun with another date. There are tons of girls who would love to go with you. I don’t like you that way. What about our age difference?

See, Darnell was seven and I was nineteen, and neither of us attended high school. We lived at a camp for kids with cancer, Darnell as a camper, me as a counselor.

I discovered the camp while flipping through an outdated booklet intended for corporate trainers. Hiring for the camp ended in April. It was May. I called anyway. A newly hired counselor quit the previous week, and the director hired me over the phone. He seemed surprised a girl from Indiana called about a camp in New Jersey. I wasn’t. I knew I was supposed to be there.

God whispered it in my ear. Sure, I would have preferred a message from a burning bush or a shouting angel, but God was teaching me to shut out the world and pay attention to His whispers.

When I arrived at camp, the director assigned me to the youngest girls, the Robins. The Robins were five-year-olds from low income, inner-city homes. The Robins also happened to have cancer, all of them.

I didn’t shine in my new position. Our cabin was filthy. We were late to all activities, and the only time those Robins bathed was when the rain pounded down, and I corralled the girls outside and greased them up with soap.

Regardless of what activity I worked, Darnell took each session with me. If I taught four arts and crafts sessions in one day, Darnell made four bird feeders. If I faked my way through leading water aerobics, Darnell, who hated swimming, bounced along with me.

I finally accepted Darnell’s invitation to the prom when his tiny hands brought me a fistful of weeds, and he told me age didn’t matter when you were in love.

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We attended prom and took a limo from one side of the camp to the other. We walked through a balloon arch, and we munched on finger food. All night I wondered how many of the kids on the dance floor would see a real prom.

Two days later, Darnell left camp. No time for good-byes. His white blood cell count fell too low. After Darnell left, daily activities and the Robins kept me busy, but even now, my head drifts to that little boy with a fistful of weeds, and to God’s whispers that left me changed forever.


Question for you: When you hear God whisper, do you follow Him or wait until He starts to shout? What whispers have you heard lately?

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Amy Sullivan

Amy writes for both print and online publications. She is currently writing a non-fiction book about practical ways for families to serve others. Amy spends her mornings teaching sassy, high school students in Western North Carolina, and her afternoons attempting to correct her two daughters’ newly acquired Southern accents. You can find out more about Amy at her site: http://www.amylsullivan1.com/