Have you ever met someone that changed you. Or taught you something without even realizing it? I met a woman like that recently. Just by being herself, she gave me a gift I would not soon forget, and made a hard situation a little bit easier to handle.
Two weeks ago our 18 month old got sick. At supper time Sunday night her voice was getting hoarse, and by 3pm the next day she had a high fever and I had a hard time keeping her awake. I figured I should take her in to emerg to quickly get checked. I knew it wouldn’t end up being “quick”, but in the end we wound up staying there overnight.
Anyways, when we first got there, the nurses took her vitals and decided almost right away that they wanted to take blood and possibly start an IV.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had to be there when an 18 month old is getting blood taken, but it’s so hard, both emotionally and physically. Three of us had to hold her down while the tech tried to take the sample, and my heart was breaking as she cried “mommy” over and over. I don’t know how long it lasted; it felt like an hour, and they never did get a sample or start an IV.
In the aftermath of that traumatic experience, we were sitting and snuggling on the ER bed as best we could. A few minutes later a woman poked her head through our curtain. She was not a nurse…I assumed she was a relative of a patient in the ER. She smiled kindly and handed a box to Sadie. It was a brand new set of mini Disney princess figurines. “That sounded really hard on her. I thought she might enjoy these” she said. I teared up a bit at her kindness and said,”thank you”.
She was right, Sadie did enjoy them! She immediately started methodically putting them into and taking them out of the bedpan that was beside her bed, and it kept her busy while we waited to hear from the Doctor.
As it ended up, we were in the ER all night for observation. After the medicine kicked in, Sadie was in much better spirits and tried to run everywhere…and she didn’t stop until one in the morning.
During that time I started visiting with the woman who had given her the gift. I had been grateful when she gave it to us, but when I heard a bit about why she was there, I was truly humbled. It touched my heart so much to meet someone like her. Someone who had experienced tragedy and ongoing struggles like she had, and chose to respond with complete kindness and selflessness towards others. Someone who played peekaboo with my energetic toddler at midnight because neither of them could sleep.
We got discharged the next morning, exhausted, but with Sadie on the mend thankfully. The woman, who had been there for days, was still there. I’ll never forget her. Or how she helped us that night.
I will admit, I struggled with bitterness a bit through that experience. It was hard to see my baby get poked, it was hard to try and keep her contained to a tiny bed all night, when I thought she seemed well enough to go home. It was hard to get no sleep. I felt so foolish as we left though. Here I was, relieved to be through a very inconvenient night, when it was nothing compared to what some people experience.
In the days since then, I’ve thought about it a lot. We see generosity and selflessness more at this time of year for sure. However, I know that the woman I met at the hospital would have demonstrated the same level of generosity to anyone, at any time of year. It was both humbling and refreshing to meet her.
Not only that, it has become an excellent reminder to me. There are times when my circumstances are less than ideal, but it is still completely, 100% possible to love others. In fact, I believe that being nice to others when we really don’t feel like it can be healing. And no matter what, it doesn’t hurt!