We were visiting my best friend Ann in the hospital. Things didn’t look good. It showed in all our eyes.
Then we heard the elevator ding and a cherubic voice flowing down the hallway. A good friend and her five year old daughter had come to visit our patient.
After a short visit with Ann, her mom sat on the bed and visited, leaving the child a bit at loose ends. She and I took a walk back and forth in the hospital hallway. At one point some orderlies wheeled a gurney into the hall, leaving it there while they attended to other tasks.
As is usual in a hospital, we passed the time with small talk. I knew the strange smells and excessive quiet might be overpowering to her, and tried to carry on with normal chitchat. Then she seemed to wake up to the moment, noticing an empty bed in the room they had just left.
She said, “I hope no one died in that empty bed. I hope it’s just ready to help someone new.” I assured her it was while musing myself about what might have just happened before we arrived.
But even a young child knows people sometimes do die in hospitals, and I knew she had already experienced losses in her short life.
Fortunately we both had several weeks of processing time before hospice was indicated. By then, she was involved elsewhere in her life, and the time put a bit of distance between her and Ann’s passing.
This sweet gal helped me see reality coming even before I was ready to face it, reminding me that children are often attuned to feelings and realities even sooner than adults. We can learn from children to pay attention to the moment instead of the wall we all build to help us avoid impending realities.
I will always cherish the chance to see my friend’s transition through the eyes of a lovely child:-)
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission of author for use online or in print.