This I Believe

Elizabeth - CHarlottesville, Virginia
Entered on October 9, 2006

Faith…through the eyes of a child”

She drew us in. Those huge brown eyes that spoke without a voice. The petite, yet powerful, fingers that colored and drew pictures to be put up on her walls of her Pediatric intensive care room. The smile that was so abundantly visible that we all forgot about the endotracheal tube and ventilator supporting every breath. She was in control. This small child had mastered her environment with a smile and …Faith.

Let me tell you about my special day with Faith. I gather that this is a memory that everyone involved in this day will hold dear. But, first, I have to tell you a little bit about Faith. She was four years old at the time. She was diagnosed with Langerhan Cell Histocytosis when she was six months old. She had spent approximately one and a half years fighting this disease with chemotherapy and surgeries; and, well, she had it under control. In the last year, she was LCH free. She went to pre-K, played with her friends, and got to know a new baby sister.

Unfortunately, Faith got sick again. Not with LCH; but, with B-cell Lymphoma. It was decided by her family and her doctors to begin treatment including bone marrow studies, nuclear medicine studies, and chemotherapy. This is where I get to tell you about our good day.

As I told you earlier, you would never guess that Faith was sick. She handled that endotracheal tube like it was no big deal. She colored her pictures, watched her movies, and laughed with anyone she came into contact with. Well, on this day, Faith wanted to paint. So, I called the Child Life Specialist; and, she brought down all kinds of paints and brushes and colored paper. Of course, Faith was grinning ear to ear. Her mom, sister, and myself got her all set up with her little red bedside table, all her paints, and, some good cartoons for background noise. Things were very good. But, they got even better.

Faith was one of the few children in the PICU who was intubated, yet, wide awake and interactive. I mean , REALLY, interactive. I think I made almost everyone that walked by come into her room to say hi. I was, basically, bragging on Faith. She just amazed me. A smile and laughter through a bad situation: An amazing person!

Deborah, our charge nurse for the day and a true child at heart, came in to visit with Faith, myself, and her family. Before I knew it, someone (the adult, not the child  ,had painted a butterfly on my cheek. Well, it was all over from that point on. It was face painting time. Faith was the artist. She would hold your face with her tiny little hands just to get the right angle. She squinted her eyes to get just the right spot. And then, BAM, paint on the face! Not just my face and Deborah’s face everyone’s face: Doctors, Nurses, Respiratory Therapists, Faith’s Mom, Faith’s Dad, Faith’s Sister, and, even the ENT fellow who let her paint on his bald head. What a grin she got out of that one. SHE WAS PAINTING THE DOCTOR’S HEAD!!! It was purple and red and green and blue paint everywhere. It was not only paint everywhere, It was smiles and laughter everywhere. The true joy of a child took over the PICU at that moment in time. It was miraculous!

When Faith began to get tired, and, painting time was over (it lasted at least 2 hours), we all cleaned up and set up faith for a “big girl” manicure and a movie (Stuart Little of course). As I was getting ready to leave for the day, there was Faith. Sitting up in the bed with her pillows and stuffed animals everywhere ,soaking her hands in little pink basins as if she were at the spa. The lights were out, the movie was on, and, Faith was falling asleep.

Faith is remarkable. She is battling her disease with a smile. She has touched my heart in a way that is not easily explained. Her name really says it all. If we, as adults, and especially as caregivers, had the “faith” of this little one, we could realize the joy in every moment of every day. Faith is an angel in my eyes. She has helped me to take a little time to think like a child again. The power of Faith is endless when viewed through the eyes of a child.

Faith died very shortly after that wonderful day. She was at home in her own bed with all her family around. Today, the picture of Faith and I on that “good day” sits on my desk far away from the bedside where I cared for her. Just as I brought everyone in to see her on that day, all those who come into my office are given the chance to see Faith’s smile. The power of this child to bring absolute joy regardless of her own pain, is inexplicable. Painting with Faith was the best day of my life as a nurse. This I believe.