The Light in Their Eyes

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Remembering the true meaning of the season as observed in a children's hospital

The Light in Their Eyes

In our busy shifts at the pediatric hospital, we unfortunately don't often have time to spend with our patients the way we would like to. It is even more difficult for some of our patients to leave their rooms, because they require a nurse to be with them at all times. But today I was in a position to do that. A patient who has had a long journey to recovery, and who has moved his way into our hearts over the weeks of his stay, asked to be taken downstairs to see the all of the decorated trees in the lobby. The patient also asked, if we had time, if I could take him to see a show that was to be put on by a students from a local dance studio. The patient had communicated most of this by pointing at the flyer and motioning out the door. When it was time to go, the patient was so excited! He had been waiting all day.

As the elevator doors opened, we entered a lobby that had been transformed into a magical land. Some trees were simple, such as the one decorated by a Girl Scout troop and hung with handmade ornaments.A Star Wars themed tree was decorated by a high school club. A few trees towered over the lobby, decorated elaborately and sponsored by corporations. One was made entirely of stuffed animals. Another was decorated with legos by an architectural firm. Over in the corner was one decorated by a local origami club. In the center was a beautiful table set up to honor Hanukkah, of which today was the first day. As we passed each display, I felt such a strong sense of community and love surrounding my patient during his recovery and supporting my role as a nurse.

Before long some dancers started to trickle in the front entrance of the lobby and assemble. They were dressed in red sequins with hair pulled into tight buns. They ranged in age from older teens to young girls. After it was determined that they were all there, they asked where the performance room was. I told them I would show them. My patient and I found ourselves at the head of this line of dancers as I pushed him in his wheelchair down the hall towards the room where the performance was to take place. My patient was thrilled with this and kept looking back with a big smile as we led them to the performance room.

As we entered, we saw a small audience assembled. There were kids in wheelchairs and wagons, kids being carried and kids walking while pulling their IV poles. Some kids were sitting on their parent's laps, and some babies were being cuddled in their parents' arms. All of them-- kids and families-- were facing long and difficult journeys.

And then the dancers started to dance, and some of them started to also sing in sweet but powerful voices. I could tell they were moved by the patients and were pouring their hearts out to them as they performed. The patient's faces had transfixed into expressions of wonder and joy as they got lost in songs and the movements of the dancers. I felt a sense of pure goodness here. In my life as a nurse on a very busy pediatric unit, there is so much sadness and brokenness. Today I just felt love.

I looked around at the faces of some of the parents and saw tears as they held their children close. I saw my own patient wiping some tears from his eyes. And then, in spite of trying to swallow them down in the name of professionalism, I felt the tears rise in me, too: tears of sadness for the journeys that these children were made to walk, and tears of joy for all the love they were receiving in this moment. After the performance, the dancers went and visited with the patients in the room. My patient was thrilled to shake hands with one of the lead dancers with a very weak hand. And then this patient, who was just learning to talk again, whispered: "You sang so pretty."

In this most sacred time of year, the dark places of the world are being lit with hope and celebration: the candles of the menorah, the lights of the Christmas tree, the flames of the Yule log. But most holy of all was the light I saw today in the eyes of those children.

anon456 recently left PICU for hospice nursing. She has been a member of allnurses.com since before she entered nursing school.

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1 Comment(s)

kbrn2002, ADN, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis. Has 20 years experience. 3,476 Posts

Sad that the first response to this beautiful article was spam [i did report]. As much as we nurses tend to complain about working on Christmas, it is so much worse for the patients that are in a hospital instead of at home with their families. It is nice that something was planned to make the day a little brighter for these kids and their families. Thank you for sharing.