I saw a video on YouTube today that inspired this post.
There was this little girl, recently, who was crying in her hospital bed. A nurse, hearing the sobs, entered the room to comfort her. This occurred on a cancer ward, and more often than not, nurses are called on to reassure, even when prognoses are dim.
Through small, clear tears, the little girl looked up, a plastic crown upon her head, her light brunette hair resembling a bird's nest.
"I want to be a princess," cries Sarah to the nurse.
"You are, sweetie, you are," answers the nurse, knowing that the little girl has terminal cancer.
"No," Sarah countered, "I am not. Look at my sheets. Just look at them. Plain white; these sheets are not princess sheets."
The nurse and Sarah talked for a while, and by the time the conversation was over, Sarah had forgotten about the white sheets.
But the nurse could not get Sarah's voice out of her mind. She wanted princess sheets, and the nurse knew Sarah's family could not afford them. They were on Medicaid, and this girl's days were numbered (a comfort gift by some would have been a luxury in a family who could not afford luxuries at this time). Her mother worked, and had to take care of three other children.
On the way home from work that night, the nurse stopped by a department store and bought some princess sheets. After Sarah was wheeled out of her room for a while the following day, the nurse replaced the sheets with the newly acquired princess sheets.
When Sarah came back, she beamed when she saw the princess sheets.
"I am a princess," she kept repeating. "I am a princess." Her face lacked a warm glow, but there was joy in her eyes. The sheets allowed herself to be a princess.
The nurse never told the little girl, nor her mother about the sheets. They were a gift from her heart, to ease the girls last few weeks. Ten days later, the girl died in the same bed, among her princess sheets.
When you see ads to drum up support for donations, most of the children look healthy, perhaps sans hair, and smiling. They typically don't show children after chemotherapy, when they are weak and uncomfortable, teetering between life and death in hopes of killing the cancer that inhabits the body.
You know, years ago, I would give to Jerry's Kids and other organizations, wanting to fund research for a cure. Now, I am a bit more pragmatic. I give money for comfort, not research. So I don't give to Jerry; I give to my local children's hospital (it is a hospital within a hospital so I also give to the nearest freestanding children's hospital). Lots of people get transferred there when they are really sick. And each time I give, I wonder if some of the money will purchase princess sheets or whatever else a child needs in order to make their ordeal more bearable.