cancer Encouragement Hope life lessons

Silver Linings Playbook

November 25, 2013

I never saw that movie. I actually don’t really know what it’s about. But I love the title. I want to live by that playbook. I want to take my cues based on the silver linings rather than the clouds.

My niece, Zoe, is in traction in a hospital in Australia. My sister is sitting by her bed and I’m not there. Zoe is in pain. Vikki is tired. Those are some dark clouds. And if all we look for are the clouds, there are more to be found. But if we look for the silver linings…what a better skyline that is. What a more beautiful sight!

The hospital they are in is set up differently than we understand in the US. You don’t suffer your pain quietly and personally but laying right next to another child in their own pain. There is no private room with your own bathroom and place to lay by your baby’s bed. There isn’t space to take a moment to yourself to regroup, pray or cry. That cloud feels pretty dark and heavy. But if you look for it, there’s a silver lining. That lack of privacy means you know the people around you. The day Zoe was admitted, she shared a room with two other kids. One little boy was undergoing chemo, so Zoe and Vikki could relate personally and give them encouragement. The other was just out of surgery similar to the one Zoe will have next week. Those close quarters meant that Vikki was able to talk to parents. Those conversations meant those kids were prayed for by people an ocean away. I prayed for them just this morning.

Sometimes a cloud feels darker because of when it rolls in. In the middle of the night when Vikki had just gotten Zoe calmed down and resting, a little girl was brought in to the room where Zoe is in traction. She needed constant supervision but her parents were less than concerned for those around them in such critical conditions. As you can imagine, Vikki initially responded with frustration at the effect their outburst had on Zoe. I have a “you wake her, you take her rule” and that’s just on a Tuesday. But throughout the next day they got to know that little girl. They learned about her life and struggles. Vikki circled her bed in person, and I joined her prayer in spirit. They were able to be a little bright spot for her. They were a silver lining for her and she was one for them.

And my favorite silver lining of all… The night Zoe shared the room with two kids, one of them, Anthony, had complications from his fusion surgery. It’s sad to see any child hurt. It’s hard to not be able to help them. It was scary on a new level to see Anthony’s pain knowing Zoe would have the same procedure. That cloud isn’t just black, it’s ominous. That’s the kind of cloud that feels like it blocks out the sun. But God had the lining ready and waiting in the room down the hall. Zoe was moved into a room with a little girl named Rachel. Rachel is 12 and has paralysis and severe trauma as a result of a car accident years ago. Her family lives hours away, so they aren’t at the hospital with her. She’s been in rehab and under observation for so long that it’s been arranged for Rachel to be able to go to school. That means that Rachel wakes up, go to school and then goes “home” to hang with the nurses in the afternoon. I could hear the heartbreak my sister felt as she described Rachel’s situation. But where Vikki saw sadness, Zoe saw opportunity. Zoe may be in a hospital but she’s a child. And children have a way of seeing what we can’t. As they talked, Zoe asked Rachel where her mom is. When Zoe finally understood that Rachel was alone, her response wasn’t pity. Her face lit up and she said, “Well that’s great because my mom’s here and she can help us with whatever we need!”

We see a little girl alone in a hospital. Zoe saw a friend to share with.
We are sad for a mom who has to watch her baby hurt. The girls just saw a mom being a mom.
We cry for what is. They smile at what can be.

Rachel is no longer alone. She visits Zoe in traction, and Vikki keeps tabs on Rachel’s progress so she can answer when Zoe asks how she is.

When we look for clouds, we will find them.
When we look with the eyes of a child, we will see the silver linings.

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