When you step into the Children’s Hospital, you are in a different world. A world where you see a family waiting in a grouping of chairs in the lobby and you are reminded of when you waited there, and the bad news that came that day. When you see a man in the elevator holding a nursing pillow and unable to meet your gaze from under his hat brim, you can imagine the pain he is feeling. A very large group of people has taken over the waiting area on the pre-surgery floor and you know they are waiting for big news. Children skitter into the elevator lobby after an appointment, heading home, and you are so thankful that they seem blissfully unaware of their trauma. A couple with a newborn gets on the elevator from the parking level and then when they get to the main floor of the hospital they look utterly lost, and you’ve been there so many times you can direct them anywhere they need to go and hopefully your smile is reassuring because you know how that feels. When you laugh with your family, you feel almost guilty because you know there are folks nearby who have nothing to laugh at in that moment. But then you see other families laughing for just a few moments and you know that we are all just trying to celebrate the small moments and carry on with our lives despite the weight of the world on our shoulders.
I met an amazing, sweet, 92 year old man while we were waiting in the Radiology lobby of the main hospital on Wednesday during Wes’ kidney function test. I know he was 92 because he told me this, along with many wonderful facets of his long life. He is a veteran of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and he has a card to prove it along with pictures of his wife in 1945 and of himself back in 1940 when he joined the Navy. There are not many living souls left on this earth that survived the horror of Pearl Harbor. Walter shared with me that his first wife died of cancer, and they were married for 54 years. I gently told him that Wes had cancer, and he reached over and made the sign of a cross on his forehead. We talked a few minutes more – his current wife was in getting some scans because she wasn’t doing well. He told me he threatened to ask for his money back if they weren’t married for at least 20 years….it’s been 15 so far. We were called in to have Wes’ blood draw and I was really sad to leave Walter. What an amazing man. Beautiful blue eyes just like my baby boy.
The hospital is a strange land.
I leave you with pictures of Wes first thing in the morning. He wakes up so happy. Think of this like an old school flip book….