Recently I had occasion to visit one of my favourite youngsters while he was on the mend at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. I wanted him to know ‘Auntie Devon’ was cheering for him, and do whatever I could to make his parents more comfortable over the weekend.
While those were my primary intentions, I almost feel guilty admitting how inspiring the experience was.
The staff at the hospital was wonderful – as are other health care practitioners out there that don’t hear it enough! These accolades are so well deserved, and I think of these people as the backbone for keeping the ‘magic’ going – the doctors, nurses, interns, volunteers, vendors, and more.
But BEYOND the staff, there was a great energy in the building. Despite the circumstances that bring humans to that place, there’s a consistent exchange of good vibes – it’s like everyone was able to spread a little joy… whatever you could offer was sufficient.
There was an unspoken system of ‘paying-it-forward’ amongst child patients, friends, and families. Whether it was a compassionate glance, warm greeting, or a friendly conversation, all humans seemed to naturally want to support each other. All without necessarily knowing anything about one another.
I know my friends valued having me there, and I was certainly glad to offer my support. But I’m appreciative of the brief connections I made with strangers, too.
I would see children who had visible ailments but offered me big smiles and happy hello’s when I’d walk through the halls. I saw toddlers who were so happy to be playing with a new friend that their bandages, IV’s, stitches, or mobility device didn’t even seem to faze them. I also heard a lot of laughter – particularly from a father and son who were stealthy negotiators during a pretty intense game of Monopoly.
This was the joy that filled my cup. The resilience, determination and love that’s in that place was off the charts! I thought, if these children and their families could muster positivity during trying times, what’s wrong with the rest of us living our lives outside the hospital? Why aren’t more of us spreading the good stuff on the regular… when it’s a fairly easy thing to do?
Compassion, love, faith, support, humour, empathy, all seemed to be parts of the interaction at the hospital. Some of the simple things I noticed:
Friendly greetings go a long way.
Look people in the eye with a smile – let them know you see them, and you care.
Whether it’s a small thing, or a big thing, let people know you appreciate what they’ve done. “THANK YOU” is often sufficient.
Great strength can come in little packages.
Regardless where we are, or what we’re doing, making the effort to put a little more joy in someones cup is always a good thing. And more good news? We don’t need to be in a hospital to show others we care, and support them.
(My little friend is doing great at home, and I’m continuing to send good vibrations and healing thoughts to all the kids, parents, and friends still in that building working their plans for optimal health – you have lots of cheerleaders rooting for you! X O X O)s?