A Whirlwind of Care and Hope
In the cosmos of wounded kids at children’s hospitals, some hearts pound with joy; others come to rest at a butterfly memorial
Home from the Air Force, I was standing in the kitchen preparing breakfast when I heard someone at our back door. Mary, our next-door neighbor, was frantically looking for Mom, calling, “Mrs. Ryan, Mrs. Ryan!” Mary, the mother of six children and a registered nurse who had lost her husband at an early age, always called Mom “Mrs. Ryan.” I showed her in as Mom sped from upstairs to see what was the matter.
Mary explained her kids had been eating cherries, and the baby had stuffed the pits up her nose. Mom looked at Mary and said, “Let’s go!” As the two ran from the house, Mom told me to grab a can of pepper and meet her at Mary’s house. I thought, Why pepper? But I learned long ago, with Mom, you didn’t ask why, you simply did as you were told!
Armed with the pepper, I dashed into Mary’s house. Mary watched as Mom stuffed pepper up the baby’s nose. It only took a few moments for the baby to start sneezing. We all watched in amazement as the baby passed the cherry pits. The poor child sneezed all day! Mary was as grateful as I was befuddled—and impressed.
There were days when I walked into children’s hospitals as a chaplain with the same sense of bewilderment, wondering what I’d face. To an unfamiliar eye, the environment could seem chaotic. Every unit had its own medical staff, specialized equipment, and nurses scurrying back and forth—with purpose. Observers also watch the distraught parents wheeling their children around or perhaps wandering aimlessly, awaiting updates from doctors and staff. Every unit could reveal tales of hope renewed, and, in awful moments, worst fears realized.
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