I am always amazed that, even with the most evil incidents imaginable, there is still good in the world and, for me, last week, was proof of that struggle between good and evil.
I am always amazed at how our lives can be put into perspective so quickly, and how angels present themselves at the most inopportune times. Last week, it seemed there was a whirlwind of bad all around me -- from a local school bomb threat, an emergency trip to Arkansas Children's Hospital and the horrible news of the senseless murders of 28 people, including 20 innocent elementary students, in Newtown, Conn.
I was awakened with fear and a lump in my throat as I learned one of my nephews was transported overnight to Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH) with a strange blood clotting problem that caused huge bruises to appear on his little body.
When you get that message, your mind goes into overdrive and you begin, by nature I believe, to hope for the best, pray for the best, and try to put the worst in the back of your mind. It certainly added to a bout of holiday blues I have been experiencing.
As I drove alone in the early morning hours, rehearsing the many things I would say to my sister in law to calm her fears and comfort her, my mind raced as I barely recall the long drive. Upon arrival, I quickly made my way into Children's Hospital and, although it had been many years since my last visit to the facility, nothing prepared me for this trip.
I was greeted at the emergency room, not by a nurse or receptionist, but two security guards, complete with guns, badges and metal detector. I was a little perplexed at the security, considering these were sick people inside, but gladly complied as my purse was searched and I was, scanned me. The guard then walked me into the waiting area and asked me who I was here to see. The receptionist was exceptionally busy, so the guard offered to escort me to my nephew's room. On the long walk down the hall to the elevator, not one, two or even three nurses, doctors and other personnel greeted me, but many more, asking if they could help in any way. After I was shown to my nephew's room, I met with my sister in law and larned more about what led them ACH.
Little Caleb, was in no pain whatsoever, happy but restless.. The mystery was why odd bruises were appearing due to his blood not clotting properly. Every member of the staff treated us like we were their only concern, despite the many cancer patients in Caleb's ward who were much sicker. I am certain this is how each patient at the hospital must feel, that they are the only patient due to the kindness, professionalism and courtesy the pours from every employee we had the pleasure of encountering.
As we ventured down to grab a bite to eat, I met a burn patient riding in a wagon, smiling happily through the translucent bandages that covered the child's red swollen face, teens in wheelchairs with deformities, children with no hair and families, like us, who appeared to be waiting on answers. Each had a smile, not tears, and I began to play this through in my mind. I felt such sadness being there, sadness for the families, for the children who had suffered these illnesses and for those who worked cheerfully each day surrounded by sad circumstances.
It really wore on me and, as we went upstairs, one of my dear friends texted me to check on Caleb. I told him how I felt, and he made me think over everything just a little differently. He said, "Just think how many of these kids are going to go home healed." I suppose as humans we tend to see things either black or white and, he was right. My faith was renewed as I suddenly realized, if something bad is going to happen, it is just part of life and something we have no control over, but at least the children at ACH are in the best place possible to be taken care of by such a supportive and caring staff.
From the housekeepers to the volunteers who visited Caleb's room with toys, to play music and bring books, the nurses who are in the room every 15 minutes checking vitals and making sure the family is comfortable, to the doctor who spent as much time as we needed explaining procedures, one thing is for certain, these angels are in as good of hands as they can be on this Earth.
As we sat down after lunch, suddenly I began to feel less tense about Caleb's sudden illness and more optimistic. It was then that news started flowing in about another horrific sadness, even worse than cancer and childhood illnesses, if that is possible -- the senseless slaughter of the children in Newtown, Connecticut. Most of the victims were the same ages as my nephew. For some reason, my nephew's illness and my inconvenience paled in comparison to what these Connecticut families must be going through. I cried, I felt sick, but most of all, I felt thankful. Thankful for my healthy family, my dear friends, and for the care my nephew was getting.
My friend told me that sometimes God winks at you, and He did that day. So the next time you feel that the world cannot get any worse, rest assured there is always someone somewhere who would gladly trade places with you.
As my nephew is home safely and the doctors, nurses and staff of ACH continue with their daily duties of caring for their patients, remember them and the families in Newtown as we share Christmas with our loved ones. Please keep them in your prayers and hold those you love a little closer and never take one single breath for granted.