I had just driven a BMW to Houston and was set to deliver to a Dr. Martin. I called him and he said he would need me to deliver it to him at the hospital rather than his home, and I agreed completely. He also wanted it on Christmas Eve, and I was happy to make that work for him. And he told me he worked in the cancer ward, and that is when my heart sunk. Just having learned a few weeks ago about my friend Smokey's upcoming demise from cancer, I guess I am still real sensitive about it. Not dealing well with a close friend who is terminal, and not good for a Christmas I was going to spend alone.
I got to the hospital and went to the fifth floor where Dr. Martin said to meet him. I asked for him at the Nurse's desk, and they said he was busy and just to please wait. I stood against a wall just outside a room and tried to stay out of the way. And then I heard a small voice call out to me.
"Hello? Hey mister?"
I looked into the doorway of the room I was standing near. I saw a little bald girl sitting in bed with a laptop opened on her tray table. "Did you need something?" I asked her.
"Yes please, I dropped my pen and can't reach it." She held up her arms attached to IV tubes to demonstrate, and I happily scooped up her pen off the floor and handed it to her.
"Thank you very much." She smiled at me with what must be the brightest smile I have ever seen. "My name is Heather, what's yours?"
I nodded. "Bill Thomas, at your service."
"At my service? Well, now I really feel special." She giggled. "What are you doing here? You don't look sick."
"Oh," she said with understanding, "You must know someone here that has the Big C."
"Yep, cancer." I was very surprised that she had such an easy, flippant way of talking about it. "That's what I've got, in case you couldn't tell."
"Come on, you are on the cancer ward. We've all got it, we're all fighting it."
I was really impressed by her plucky spirit. I could tell right away that this girl had moxie. "How long have you had it?"
"Years now. I'm ten, and have had it almost as long as I've been alive. They thought I was going to die, and then I had a miraculous recovery and went into remission. But now it's come back again, so I'm ready to fight again."
"You're a fighter."
"Yes I am, you bet I am. And I will win."
"I believe you."
"You better believe it. Faith is my strongest ally, plus I have God on my side. The only downside is that I used to get really bored sitting in the hospital. TV can entertain you only so long."
I pointed a the laptop. "You've got your computer, so the internet is yours."
"And that is what I do, all day every day."
"What do you do?"
"I use the internet to write a whole lot of other kids with cancer. I've started my own network, and its growing every day. I send messages of hope, humor and love to them all. I tell them jokes, I offer support, and I relate to their pain and their situation. And they all really appreciate it."
"I bet they do."
"Yep, I have literally hundreds of friends now all over the USA. And I'm branching out to other countries now. And you know what? It feels really good."
"You're making me feel good."
She closed her laptop and looked at me earnestly. "Were you feeling bad before?"
I felt some shame for feeling badly when this poor girl had it much worse off than me. Yet she was upbeat and charming. "It's not important."
"It is to me. This is what I do, help people out. Please tell me what's bothering you?"
"I... my close friend is dying from inoperable cancer. It's very rare and can't be treated, and the doctors says he has less than a year."
"Sounds like he's got the very worse kind of cancer. There's all kinds, you know."
"So I've heard. I'm going to miss my friend, and I'm just not handling it well at all."
She sat straight up and said firmly, "Snap out of it!"
"Get over yourself. I'm sorry to say, but you are just feeling sad for yourself. Your friend needs your love and support right now, just like the joy I try to spread. If you give me his info I will add him to my cancer pen pal list. But what he really needs is a brother like you."
I was taken aback. "He is a like a brother to me..."
"I had a feeling," she said. "Where are you spending Christmas."
"Wherever it is, I'll be spending it alone."
"Oh no, don't do that. Go to church, go praise God. Or go find a soup kitchen and roll up your sleeves and help out those less fortunate."
"I've done that before."
"Great, then you know how its done. Believe me, when you do good things for others, you will forget all about your own problems. And you may find that your own problems aren't as huge as you thought they were." She gave me her contact info and made me promise to stay in touch.
As I walked out of the room, I thanked her. "You really helped me out."
"You helped me put things in perspective. You reminded me how valuable faith is, and that I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it."
"See there. And one more thing-- carry love in your heart and show kindness to everyone."
"Thank you so much."
She shrugged. "It's what I do. Merry Christmas Bill, and remember God loves you."
I left with a bounce in my step. I had been deeply moved and inspired by this young girl who really brought home the spirit of Christmas for me.