I keep thinking about a little girl that I met last Friday.
I went to Children’s Hospital to visit a friend from Camp Goodtimes. I knew she was going in for chemo so I thought I’d try to see her and her mom. I went to the regular spot in the hospital where I had visited her before and stopped to check in at the reception counter. I was told that she was there and was probably on a bike ride around the floor. That did sort of strike me as a little odd because Susie is 13 years old and perhaps a little big to be riding around through a hospital ward.
The nurse asked me to follow her back in towards the individual rooms. As I was walking back I saw one of the nurses that I know who volunteers at Camp Goodtimes, Lysen, also known as “Yahoo”, who is about one of the nicest people you would ever meet. While I was chatting with her, I heard someone say, “Is it you that’s here to visit Susie Smith?” I said, “Yep, that’s me.” And I looked around and all I saw was a little girl staring up at me from what they call a “Lily Pad”, which is a little cart that has a place for a child to sit on while they zoom around courtesy of 4 wheels beneath it. It also has a poll going straight up so there’s a place for necessary meds to be hanging. I said, incredulously, “Are you Susie Smith?” She and her mom both nodded and I cracked up and said that the Susie Smith that I knew was 13 years old. I was temporarily stunned--two kids, same hospital, same name, and fighting the same disease. I instantly sat down on the floor though and introduced myself to this Susie. She and her mom had time…what’s a few minutes talking with someone when all you’ve got to look forward to at that moment is another day stuck in the hospital? So I started chatting with her and found out that she was 4 years old and that she thought my nickname, “Mooselips”, was funny. She then just blurted out, “I don’t have any hair.” I said, “I see that, but you’ve got a great big smile and I love your orange helmet!” She said, “Orange is my favorite color.” She then turned her head so I could see her ear and added, “My hearing aid is orange too.”
Those words seemed to echo in my mind, “…My hearing aid is orange too.”
After talking for a few minutes about the many wonderful things in the world that are orange, I exchanged a smile with Susie and said goodbye to her and her mom. As I stopped to ask a question at the front counter on my way out, Susie zoomed by, this time in her “Fred Flinstone” car which, fittingly, was orange. She said loudly, “Bye!” I waved and told her that she better not be talking on her cell phone when driving that thing. She just continued smiling and said, “I won’t!” and drove away.
A bit later, as I myself drove away from the hospital (I never did find the other Susie that day), I kept thinking about little Susie. She’s 4 years old, she has cancer, she’s lost her hair, and she already needs a hearing aid.
My heart goes out to her and her family and I hope she gets out of the hospital very soon. In the meantime, it’s comforting to know that she’s being taken care of by some of the most wonderful people on earth.