NEVER STOP LISTENING TO THAT SMALL VOICE INSIDE...
It was October of 2016 when I met a young woman named Leslie, the daughter of a Facebook Friend who lived in Texas. Due to a series of errors and mishaps, Leslie was alone…in Arkansas…and facing a very-serious surgery to remove part of her foot.
Leslie's mother had purchased my book for her daughter and---when I learned that Leslie was a patient in Little Rock’s St. Vincent Hospital, I offered to deliver my book to Leslie--in person. Since only-family-members are allowed to visit hospital patients in ICU, I decided it was time to be Leslie’s Aunt Sally
Whether I am a volunteer, a patient, or a visitor, I’ve always disliked Hospitals. But--I couldn't let my hospital-phobia interfere with my need to visit Leslie. I had a very-important mission and it meant visiting the ICU at St. Vincent's Hospital in Little Rock, AR.
I told the nurses behind the desk I was Leslie’s Aunt and--- walking down the hall to bed # 16--- I felt emotionally great… like I was truly a member of Leslie's family.
BRAVE was the word that came to mind after I introduced myself to Leslie, handed her my book, and sat down to visit for awhile. Imagine being in the hospital, surrounded by absolute strangers; Imagine having to face life-changing surgery ...and you’re all alone.
Leslie was a loving young woman who, like most of us at different times in our lives, had no choice but face the unknown. Life has no guarantees. Young or old, rich or poor, alone or well-connected, Life does not discriminate when it comes to illness, surgeries, treatments, and loss.
Yes, Leslie was amazingly BRAVE. She didn’t run away from the enemy that invaded her body but, instead, accepted what she could not change; Leslie faced her surgery like a strong and brave soldier who refused to surrender. I felt honored to simply be with her.
Walking back though the parking lot after saying goodbye to Leslie, I couldn't help but remember long-ago when I’d been a patient in St. Vincent; a time when Catholic Sisters wearing traditional habits, greeted visitors at the front door, in the Cafeteria, and-- on every floor.
Remembering the days when I was both a patient and a visitor at St. Vincent’s, it was always the faithful Volunteers who so willingly helped me find-my-way. Most touching, the Catholic Sisters were also available to visit a patient who had no family or.... a family who suddenly had no patient.
Hospitals today are large corporations. Now, everywhere you look there are buttons to press for food service; wall phones with recorded instructions to help you find your destination; and even phones with recorded voices....to automatically open or close major doors. Today, hospital’s halls and desks are empty of Volunteers, caring Sisters of Mercy, even directional signs. People have been replaced with technology.
There was nothing warm or friendly about my latest Hospital Experience except for……. Leslie. She made my visit personal, memorable, and worthwhile.
Thank you God for directing me to bed #16 on that particular October afternoon. Thank you for giving me the strength to overcome my Hospital Phobia so I could meet my new "niece".... Leslie.
By the way, I don't feel the least-bit guilty about introducing myself as Leslie's Aunt. In God’s Family....we are all related.