When I was born, it was quickly noticeable to my parents that my eyes had a problem. I have strabismus which means my eyes work independently. I’ve had 6 corrective surgeries, the first one by age one. At that time, this procedure was brand new. In fact, I had one of the pioneer surgeons for 3 of my surgeries at Stanford University. I’ve been told that, without these surgeries, I would look cross-eyed and be blind in one eye.
I clearly remember three of my childhood surgeries. It was an uncomfortable recovery, but the hospital stay was especially scary as parents weren’t allowed to stay with their children overnight back in those days.
I always had to check in the day before the surgery. As my mom said goodby and left, a deep dread came over me. Nighttime was the worst. All the other children on the ward were asleep, but I laid wide awake. My nurse kept checking on me, trying to reassure me but I couldn’t sleep. Then, she did something surprising I have never forgotten.
She had me get out of bed, and walked me down to the nurses station. I was afraid she was going to give me a shot. Instead, she showed me around, and then she pulled up a chair, raised it so I could reach the desk, gave me a big pad of paper AND one of those pens you could click to change colors - black, blue, green, and red. She said I could sit with her as she worked and draw for as long as I wanted to.
It was a simple act. But it had a huge impact. I felt secure, cared about, relieved, and “grown up” sitting with the nurses. I will never forget her kindness, or her face.
Sometimes, we are so in need of love ourselves, we can’t even think of showing love to others (if this is the case for you I hope you’ll check out the story “You are Loved” with the artwork "Hawaiian Heart" on the artliftinghearts website).
But most of the time, stopping to feel empathy and coming up with a kind action can often feel like an inconvenience. We may think it’s too costly, or we question whether the thing we might do is really very important. Often we think about it so long, the opportunity is gone.