I believe in the warmth of the hearts of children, and not just any child, but a child in need.
I am a volunteer at Seattle Children’s Hospital, the most friendly and comfortable place around for the recovering, sick, and dying between the ages of zero and eighteen. The word hospital normally conveys sensations of sadness and discomfort. So don’t get me wrong, Children’s has plenty of grieving. But, it is packed full of little miracles, which carry many of my wonderful memories: the beautiful children themselves.
My first day one-on-one with a patient arrived after hours of training and preparation. To be honest, I was terrified. I trembled as the playroom coordinator handed me a little white slip of paper with what seemed minimal patient information, telling me only name, age, and room number.
The elevator ride to the floor seemed entirely too fast. I wandered through the long halls until I reached a door with a section of room numbers which matched that on my slip. I read the sign on the door a few times before it really sank in: SCAA – Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
I entered my patient’s room, and was greeted by an exhausted mother eager for a break, and this sweet, excited little 6 year old girl, who’s shining smile and readiness to play made me completely overlook her bald little head and IVs pouring from her arm. My newfound friend was quite possibly the most normal, exuberant 6 year old girl I had ever met. Time flew by, and it was easy to notice that we greatly enjoyed each other’s company. But, towards the end of my stay, she began acting relatively shy, as if she had something to say but did not know if she should. I promptly asked her what she wanted. And after a moment of silence, she asked me if she could play with my hair. As I readily agreed, it hit me. She was not your average little girl. She had cancer. She was trapped in a hospital. And instead of being bitter and upset, as most would, she took her obstacle with a grain of salt. As she repeatedly tried to perfect the braids in my hair, I realized that the warmth pouring from her heart could not be overlooked. This tenderness can be seen in only the kindest of people, and at that moment, I felt proud that I could play a part in the lives of these lovable little children.
In the months I have spent working one-on-one with the patients and siblings at Children’s hospital, I have never met one who is ungracious, or unhappy to see me. In fact, it has come to be that these children, the “little disasters”, brighten my day more than anyone else ever could. Their smiles explode with the warmth of their hearts. And so I say much can be learned from the kindness of children, and the compassion they show in such an unsuspecting place.
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