Shining Star

Arms filled with supplies for that afternoon's art group, I arrived at our hospital's playroom. Three children and a grandmother were waiting by the door, champing at the bit to come in. Regretfully, I told them it would be a few more minutes, that I had to get some more supplies. They looked at me woefully. And after another few minutes of shuttling supplies, I explained we were short staffed and Grandma explained that they were having a hard time getting through a 10 hour surgery for her grandchild.

"Trumps my story! Come on in!" I said. Seriously though, its a constant balancing act between staff and patients. Shortly after the siblings arrived, in skipped Natasha, nine year old sibling of Jeremy who's been hospitalized for the last several months. It's rare that we have siblings coming daily for several months but it does happen. Natasha is a joyful child, always skipping, looking out for new friends in the children that arrive and depart, and unerring in her observations about me, noting my quirks with a shrewdness often reserved for one's own children.

Because of kids like Natasha, I try to keep the projects for our art groups varied during their stay. This requires some fun sleuthing on my part and I recently discovered the blog creative jewish mom. This former Manhattan designer turned Israeli citizen has a fantastically cross referenced blog, easy to navigate and filled with inspiring and eco-friendly projects for kids (and adults).

I picked out a sunburst project--it seemed day camp like. Although many of our kids may not have been to camp, nevertheless we like to pull in familiar associations to summer; ice cream, water play, lemonade and the like and use these to create experiences that evoke a camp style comaradery and closeness between kids.

With a little fast glue gun work by my colleague and I, we created a series of 10 or so sunbursts and opened up shop. The kids came crowding in, eager to dip their brushes into the paint and cover the rays of their suns in rainbow hues. For one five year old hadn't painted before, the discovery of paint's ability to cover a surface was revolutionary. Another three year old considered each choice of color like a seasoned pro, painting the spokes with his favorite shades of green and blue.

My focus was on Natasha. She takes each project to heart, finding a way to tailor it so that she can later present it to her brother. It tugs on my heart each time I see her brother's initials or name appear. After the initial rush was over, Natasha and I sat together painting. It occurred to me that I knew very little of what she does after the staff and volunteers leave for the day. I don't know why I hadn't asked her before, but I did then.

She told me that she often read to her little brother, or drew in his coloring books for him, or simply watched a movie together. Her words touched me immensely and I woke up this morning thinking of her.

Instead of wondering about "what I had to do today"--or which things might not be going my way, or even what I might be able to accomplish, I thought of this child's courage, her indomitable spirit and her ability to remain hopeful, inspired, inspirational and loving in spite of all that she's seen.

I recently read something the Dalai Llama said, "It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come."*

*Many thanks to Iona Drozda for this quote

SoulCollageĀ® card above by Anonymous