Archive for the ‘hospital’ Category

She sat staring through the thick glass that separated her from the world she so loved to explore. The hard mattress on which she lay, with its stark white sheets, devoid of the colors that for so long filled her life with happiness, seemed fused to her body like a leaden coat. As she looked on, the sun rose and painted the wispy clouds that drifted aimlessly in pink and red hues. It had been so long since she had ventured from the confines of her room with its plain pale walls that held her like a prisoner in a tower she remembers from not long ago.

Outside, upon the cold window ledge, obscured from her view sat a single blue dragonfly, with its iridescent wings gleaming in the glow of the morning sun. It sat staring at her intently as she stirred, and a tear formed in his eye, before falling upon the ground below. Upon his back he carried a bright red ladybug, which whispered in his ear, “she looks so sad.” He nodded as only dragonflies can and turned to look at her as a tear also formed in her eye. He gently flapped his wings and raised themselves to where they could be seen. The sunlight reflected in the girl’s eyes and a tiny smile fell upon her face, but she was tired, and as the smile fell away so she drifted off to sleep.

Shortly a pale butterfly landed on the sill, and the dragonfly lighted down momentarily. The butterfly, so weak and frail, climbed upon his back, where the ladybug took her hand and gave her a smile. Ever so gently he turned and taking off they flew into the sun’s gleaming light with the warmth that bathed them offering respite from the chill that the morning air had brought. The butterfly knew not where they were going, and the anticipation of the journey was far greater than each day she had spent alone outside the room. In the morning light they moved swiftly, until the smell of salt air and the sounds of distant waves could be heard as they rolled upon the sandy shore.

They landed carefully on the waters edge, and as if by magic, three children now stood staring as the light danced upon the water before them, as if inviting them to play. The sound of rough pebbles reverberated from beneath their feet, and as they looked down they noticed they were standing amongst a treasure trove of the tiniest shells. They sat in a circle facing one another, each lifting and inspecting the most wonderful shells they could find and placing only the best in their tiny pockets. Each selected four shells to keep, and as they did they showed the others what it was that they had found. The girl with her hair tied in pink bows smiled as if she had not been on an adventure for ages, and as the other girl brushed the sand off her red shoes, she smiled, because she knew it had been too long, but that magic had brought them here.

The boy in the long blue jacket smiled at his two friends as he watched them sharing what they had found. He took his shells and gave them to the girl as she straightened her braces on her pink overalls, and the girl with the ruby red cheeks did the same. “Our gift to you, in memory of the times that were, and will now be once more.” She smiled in return, which was a greater gift in itself. “Come now, we must leave,” suggested the boy. “Time is of the essence and there are things to do, places to go.” They looked at him with sadness in their eyes, because they were enjoying this moment like so many before, from long ago, but they somehow knew he was right, as he usually was. He took their hands and they closed their eyes, then in a moment Angelica woke, with her tired eyes adjusting to the dull light once more. She took a breath, and then blinked in thought, as the smells that had filled her day were no longer apparent, replaced by a familiar scent from many days past. As her eyes adjusted, the special chair that she had bought many years before formed its shape before her eyes.

This was her room, her home, her sanctuary. Had it been a dream, had it all been a dream? No, it was not all a dream, she still felt the discomfort that had accompanied her over the last two weeks, but she was truly home. She gazed around the room, and on the bedside table she saw a heart shaped box, stained glass with a Rose and a Dragonfly intricately woven within its colorful glass pattern. She lifted it carefully, and as she opened it she saw twelve tiny shells, exactly as they had appeared in her dream. A tear formed in her eye, because not only was she home, but the magic of dreams had come true. She glanced up, as a flash of light reflected through her window. There she saw a bright blue dragonfly, a red ladybug, and the most majestic pink butterfly all hovering outside. She strained with the pain she still carried and climbed out of her bed, slipping her feet into her golden slippers that sparkled like her friends eyes. She shuffled her way, slightly hunched to the window, just in time to see them fly away.

As she stared out the window into the broad backyard that lay before her, with the golden glow of the sunrise bathing it with its warmth, she thought for a moment that she caught a glimpse of blue, and red, and the flicking tail of a red fox she had met once before, all running towards a large tree that now grew where it had not before. As she thought to herself she heard the echo of childish laughter from behind the hedge row, and the familiar, whoooooo hooooooo, yeeeeeee haaaaaaw, weeeeeeeeeee, that she had heard so often before. She smiled and gave a little laugh of her own, because she was home and she knew once again that she was surrounded by the magic that had so filled her life with joy.


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Angelica turned uncomfortably in the bed, but without the sense of disorientation that had steadily dissolved the longer she had been confined to sleep in this plain room by herself.  Twenty one long days and restless nights had somehow started to feel ordinary, and whatever world had continued to spin without her outside the hospital seemed nothing more than a faint, sweet dream between the endless, unscheduled meetings with doctors, surgeons, nurses, pathologists, specialists, counsellors, dieticians, physiotherapists and more.

In the haze between asleep and awake, Angelica became vaguely aware that some distant light was just starting to bathe the landscape painted on the other side of the large window, well beyond her reach. Today would be no different. The endless stream of nameless faces would soon begin to flow through her room to remind her of her poor health and utter helplessness.

Slowly, as though stepping from one level of consciousness to the next, she woke more fully to realise, no – this day was NOT just like every other. She could not find any words inside her tired mind to explain how today would be different, but the dawning day somehow seemed  infused with greater anticipation than Christmas morning.  As Angelica’s eyes focused and refocused from the ascending steps of sleep towards greater clarity, a surprising addition to the bright mural on her hospital room wall commanded her attention …

Of course, there were the massive tree with its widely outspread branches – stronger than ever, thanks to an amazing friendship  that could survive even life’s darkest hours – and the silhouette of the three children whose unique joy gave the tree its life and colour. Angelica and her friend had painted this mural with their words over the past three weeks, a fanciful escape from the banality of the stark walls that had become her prison.

But now the mural was made of more than words and daydreams. It seemed to have transcended the realm of imagination, and now it appeared to be painted permanently across the long wall that had  previously taunted her with its stark, mind-numbing bareness.

Brushing her fringe from her eyes, Angelica sat herself slowly up in her bed, (for she was not yet completely strong or quick), donned her soft dressing gown and made her way gingerly towards the mural. ‘What kind of dream is this?’ she wondered, as the sterile stench of antiseptic evaporated, giving way to the lush smell of moss and bark and freshly fallen leaves that filled her lungs with promise.

Angelica ran her hand across the tree trunk in the centre of the mural and marvelled at how the wall’s flat matt paint transformed now under her palm, filling it with a solid, round metal handle. She turned it slowly, feeling the trunk door creak slowly open, inviting her to leave the confines of the hospital room, to enter a world infinitely more inviting and familiar.

Peering through the door into the dreamworld beyond her room, Angelica felt a glowing warmth against her cheek, infusing it with a pale pink flush that had not been present for some time. Yes, she could feel the sun on her face, and she inhaled the fresh air greedily as though it was hers to breathe for the very first time.

But the warm glow was layered. Somewhere between Angelica and the bold, bright sun, there was a small, square table covered by a bright blue cloth. The table was adorned with a large metal tree, beautifully sculpted by some master craftsman, each of its sturdy branches showcasing a small leaf-shaped candle.

‘This is exquisite,’ she whispered to herself, ‘I wonder how it came to be – a tree within a tree?’ Then there was the subtle smell of fresh cut roses, and a gentle hand rested upon Angelica’s tired shoulder. ‘Don’t you know what today is?’ the kind, familiar voice whispered back. ‘This is no ordinary day, my friend.’

Then somehow – in a way that can only happen on the most blissful days when one is filled with the most potent sense of hope and belief – the cobalt cloth seemed to transform itself into a long blue cloak. And there he stood before the two girls – the magical white-haired boy. His face beamed towards his friends in the flickering light of the candles that glowed upon the metal tree.

‘This is no ordinary day,’ the boy spoke, echoing the words his love had uttered only moments before. ‘You found the handle I painted for you on the trunk of the tree. But you haven’t yet realised that the door only opens in one direction. Now that you have left your hospital room, there is no going back my friend.’

The beautiful girl who smelled like roses sighed gently. ‘We  lit these candles to keep vigil for you until you could return. See how they have brought you back to us?’ Her smiling eyes sparkled like rubies as they always did when she felt things deeply.

Angelica’s mind flooded with a wash of wonder. Was any of this real? Somehow, everything had the quality of the sweetest dream, and for a moment she shut her eyes, fearful that she would awake back in her hospital bed if she dared to open them.

But moment after moment, this world became more real, and Angelica’s heart filled with a potent certainty that the hospital room she had inhabited for the past three weeks had begun to decay into little more than a dusty delusion.

She opened her eyes, and immediately they were drawn to the shiny silver tree with its small collection of glowing candles. She counted them curiously. Eleven. And recounted them – eleven again. Why did this feel so … strange … as though there was something she must somehow fix?

Perplexed, she pushed her fringe from her eyes again, then rested her hand deep inside the pocket of her long dressing gown, only to draw it out again quickly in an attempt to determine the nature of the object she had unexpectedly found there. She rubbed her fingers again and again over the small, waxy object before understanding what it was and why today would truly be no ordinary day.

Slowly, she discerned the reason the room that had contained her for close to a month had dissolved this morning with the tentative turn of a tree trunk’s handle. She made her way towards the metal tree on the table, finding the one solid, silver branch she had not noticed before which was not yet aglow. Resting the tiny, leaf-shaped candle upon the small flat of the final branch, Angelica began to remember the significance of the day – June 13th – and closed her eyes, preparing to make a wish.

No – it was not her birthday, but she drew breath and blew gently towards the twelve candles, finding them all now lit and glowing brightly rather than extinguished when she opened her eyes again. The faces of her two friends appeared before her, magically luminous in the light and warmth of the twelve glowing leaves, now burning with all the intensity of Angelica’s relief that she had managed to free herself from the stark, sterile hospital room for such a momentous occasion.

‘My friend,’ Angelica addressed the boy in the long, blue cloak, ‘ Today is no ordinary day. Yesterday you were eleven, but today you are twelve. I light this candle to honour you on your very special day.’ A rare tear began to form in her eye, as she realised that her confinement had prevented her from finding a suitable birthday gift from her friend. The lovely rose girl standing nearby squeezed Angelica’s hand gently, reassuring as always. All that she said to the white-haired boy was also true of the beautiful girl who now stood so closely beside her.

‘My friend,’ Angelica continued, ‘You have given constantly to me in my time of need the things I needed the most. Loyalty, encouragement, inspiration, wise counsel, a listening ear, positivity and strength – in summary, you have offered the truest, purest friendship I have ever known. You have been there beside me in the darkest moments of my life, and have always been there to celebrate with me in better times, as you are truly here even now.’

‘I can never repay your friendship,’ Angelica sighed, feeling slightly inadequate as she sometimes did. ‘All I can do is offer you my deepest friendship in return.’ Her two dearest friends smiled at each other, knowing that sometimes she felt a little overwhelmed by all that she had been through and all that was still to come. Like trees, they each reached their branches towards her, filling her with their compassion and strength.

‘I do not quite know how to leave the bare walls of that stark room on the other side of the tree trunk behind me. I do not know how any single moment of my path will unfold as I reenter this magical world of colour and life and light. But the two of you have taught me many important lessons, and this is one that I shall never forget.’

‘Today is unique and tomorrow will be too. Each day will present challenges that may threaten to overwhelm me, but when I lack strength, you two will lend me your strength and help me to climb. This I know with certainty and is something I shall never doubt. I only regret -‘ Angelica lowered her eyes momentarily from the warm gaze of her friends, ‘that on your birthday, I could do no more than add the final candle to your birthday tree.’

‘You still don’t understand, do you?’ the boy in the blue cloak spoke gently, moving towards the twelve tiny candles that danced like tiny, shiny stars from the silver tree on the tabletop. ‘When you awoke this morning, you saw the mural I had painted for you, and you found the handle on the trunk to leave that other world behind you for good.  I don’t need to blow these candles out to make my birthday wish. That was my wish, and see how it has already come true?’

Angelica felt her courage grow stronger within her, coursing through her veins like strong, milky sap through the sturdy trunk of the tree. She knew that she had sometimes worried too much and perhaps at times even worried about the wrong sorts of things. She closed her eyes and felt the warmth of the twelve tiny candle leaves glowing onto her face once more.

And though the candle wishes were not hers to make, she knew that her friends would understand. One by one, she blew each of them out, wishing for peace, courage, acceptance, patience, strength, laughter, health, lady bugs and dragonflies. She wished for friendship that would never falter and that her precious, eternally young friend would have the best twelfth birthday he had ever had.

Angelica counted and recounted these wishes in her mind. Eleven. There was one more wish to be made, the most powerful wish of all, saved until last. She closed her eyes once more and wished with all her heart that this would truly be no ordinary day.

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