Love, Free of Charge
Four years ago, I was sitting in a hospital waiting room with my then 9 year old daughter. We were waiting to be called back to the lab to have her blood drawn and to find out if her blood counts were high enough for her to be able to go to school that week. She was being treated for brain cancer with weekly chemotherapy treatments, and blood draws were a regular part of her care. The waiting room was more crowded than I had ever seen it. There were many people standing, as there were no empty chairs left. The energy of the room was also heavier than I had ever felt it. Even though the room was filled with more than 50 people, it was very quiet and somber. Everyone seemed to be waiting for important news or processing something heavy. As we sat there, waiting, I watched a man walk through the waiting room. He was rather slumped over in his posture and seemed quite sullen. Behind him trailed his young daughter, maybe 5 years old. I recognized, immediately, that they were there for the girl. Something was going on with her that had brought them to the hospital. She walked a little distance behind her father, carrying her doll and blanket and looking scared and serious. Another small distance behind her trailed what seemed to be her little brother. He carried nothing. He seemed not yet 2 years old, and was clearly still learning how to walk. As he toddled along, the first chair he came to was mine. He stopped, turned to me, focused his bright blue eyes on mine, then lifted his face into one of the biggest, brightest smiles I have ever received. His little hand shot up and he began to wave enthusiastically at me, as if he knew me. It was as if he was seeing an old friend he hadn’t seen in years, a BEST friend! Of course, I responded with the same. My face lit up into a huge smile and I waved back with equal enthusiasm. I even felt a small giggle in my chest. He took 2 more steps and then did exactly the same thing with my daughter, Madelynn, who was just as delighted to respond to him. By this time, the father and daughter had stopped to wait for the young boy, and watched as he made his way across the waiting room greeting strangers, one after another, in this way. The father and daughter didn’t smile or try to hurry him. They just watched and waited, as if they had seen it before. Each one of us greeted by this little guy had the same reaction. Our faces lit up, our moods were lifted, and our hearts were touched. By the time he made it to the other end of the waiting room, he had shifted the entire energy of the room. It felt lighter and easier to be there, and the entire spirit of the place had been lifted. I watched, with tears in my eyes, as the 3 of them walked away. I knew I had just witnessed something that would stay with me for the rest of my life. This small child, who we think knows nothing yet, had so much to teach, so much to share. He had no understanding of the situation he was walking into, and so he was completely open to the magic of the moment. He only understood that there was a room full of new faces to meet and greet. In truth, that was the only reality of that moment. Everything else was only what each of us was imagining, which may or may not ever become real or true. I knew I had just witnessed love, in its purest form. No expectations or trepidation, insecurity or hesitation. Just pure love, free of charge, and limitless. I felt truly blessed to have witnessed it, and it is a memory I will always treasure.