I met yet another amazing Mother of a cancer patient today. On my rounds as Princess Joy, I peered into the dark room of one of the little patients, making sure that I was not disturbing any much-needed sleep, and was greeted with a warm smile and a wave to come in from her mom. I entered singing softly. Nestled in the “nook” of her right arm was her little girl, still a toddler, who looked up at me and suddenly broke into a huge, yet brief, smile. It is the best feeling in the world, that moment when you see a child smile.
“Wow – she smiled! It means so much! Thank you for what you do!” said her Mom. And that began one of those conversations that will forever stay with me, and I hope that I can capture the essence of this mother’s message here.
As a volunteer at the hospital I am very sensitive to the strict rules about privacy and I do NOT ask questions regarding why the patient is there, but when a mother wants to talk, I simply listen. She explained that the chemotherapy her daughter is undergoing will keep them in the hospital for 21 day cycles. They get to go home for two days at a time. But those 2 days at home are chaotic – filled with unpacking and repacking and laundry and housework and… well, you get the point. It’s not at all relaxing.
“I realize now how much I took for granted,” the mom whispered softly as her little girl settled back into sleep, soothed by her voice. “Like a simple cup of tea. It’s something I used to do every day – pour tea and drink it slowly. Now I cannot.”
We sat quietly for a moment, watching her daughter sleep. Then she continued in a whisper.
“Or sleeping without losing feeling in my arm.”
I must have looked confused so she glanced down… and I realized that the little girl had fallen asleep on her mother’s arm. “I don’t dare move it. But it’s ok.”
The mother looked at me with tears sparkling in her eyes and gave me a small smile. A thousand words passed between us in that moment, unspoken and yet so loud and clear. I can see her struggle, her pain, and yet that smile… in that smile, was her gratitude for the present moment. Tears sprang to my own eyes and I told her the only words that came to my mind: “You are so loved.”
All we have is this present moment. This beautiful, perfect moment in time. Take nothing for granted.