Will You Be My Warrior?

It was mid-afternoon, sunny and breezy, a very nice May day. I sat on the metal bench waiting for the valet to fetch my car out of the parking garage. Since I like to people-watch, I sat, eyes behind my sunglasses, and watched. Some people dropped off their cars to be parked. Others, like me, waited for their cars to be retrieved from the garage.

The striped red-black-white dress caught my eye, something that I would wear. The lady in the dress was an attractive tall, model-thin lady, and wore nice black-heeled sandals to match the dress. She held the tell-tale large brown envelope with x-rays. Beside her was her daughter, who looked to be 11-12 years old and was almost as tall as her mother and just as pretty! Another lady, who looked like her sister, also stood beside her as they waited for their car.

While the lady’s dress caught my eye, her lovely English accent caught my ear. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but they stood close enough that I could hear their conversation. She said, “you know, there are angels around us everywhere we go.” Through my sunglasses, I saw the tears rolling down the young girl’s face. This lovely lady, like all patients in this hospital, is here because this is the best chance to beat cancer.

I heard the young girl say “I’m so scared” as she sobbed. Her mother held her close and wiped her tears. She said, “It’s only four months, and it’s going to be alright.” Then she turned to her sister, touched her forearm, and asked, “will you be my warrior?” Her sister nodded yes. She turned back to her daughter and held her face in her hands and asked, “will you be my warrior? I need you to be strong for me.”

My car showed up as my own tears rolled down my face. The question haunted me for quite a while. To me, a warrior is someone who shows great vigor, courage, aggressiveness. There isn’t a cancer patient in this hospital who isn’t a warrior; they are fighting every day with courage and perseverance to endure tests, x-rays, treatment, biopsies, waiting, hoping. So why did this lady ask her daughter and sister to be a warrior? Can a loved one, friend, family member be a warrior, too?

Well, yes, because in any battle, there are “non-combat” warriors – advocates, guardians, supporters. These people provide strength, encouragement and care for the battle-worn . . . As I reflected, I realized our personal warriors . . .

  • Mow the grass, edge the sidewalks every week without being asked
  • Pick up the mail and watch the house
  • Show up on Saturday to clean out the refrigerator and kitchen
  • Bring a delicious chicken potpie and fresh fruit tart, just because you don’t have time to cook
  • Give you an “Angel of Prayer” to sit by your bedside
  • Provide company while I wait during the biopsy procedure
  • Bring “care packages” of fruit, snacks, hand-sanitizer, books, magazines
  • Spend Saturday mornings pulling weeds, trimming hedges, fertilizing the yard
  • Pray, have faith when we are weak

So, how will you respond if asked “will you be my warrior?”

“Will you be my warrior?  I need you to be strong and bea positive…”

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My Name Is Juanita

In hospital waiting rooms, you do just that – wait. It can feel like an eternity. When a loved one is in ICU, you don’t want to leave for fear something might happen. God forbid something really dire happens, and you’re not there. You know that your body needs rest, but you can’t take a chance of missing a doctor or nurse who might have an updated status.

Lourdes never left the hospital while her husband was in ICU. In one corner of the ICU waiting room, she had taken up “residence” so that she could be close to her husband. There were several Publix shopping bags full of food, bottled water, travel bag and lots of coffee cups. A pillow and blanket was folded neatly on one of the sofas when she wasn’t using them.

Every evening a large group of family and friends came by. Kids under 12 aren’t allowed to visit patients, so the two that came romped around the waiting room while the adults took turns visiting their father/brother/friend. Cartoon Network blared on TV with no one really watching. For several hours, the waiting room was pretty chaotic, Fresh clothing, hot meals and more coffee were brought in for Lourdes. More importantly, love and support surrounded her.

One morning, it was fairly quiet and Lourdes had one visitor. They sat in the corner quietly, speaking Spanish to each other. On the other end of the waiting room in a corner, was another lady. She sat alone and every now and then looked at her phone and typed a few messages. In the chair next to her, she had a box of hospital-grade tissues, definitely not the soft branded-kind! She received a phone call.  As she talked on the phone, she wiped away tears with the tissues and piled up the used ones next to the tissue box.

After a few moments, Lourdes’s friend walked across the room to this lone lady. She spoke softly and placed her hand on the lady’s arm and said, “I saw you sitting alone, and saw you crying while on the phone. I don’t know you or your situation, but I know you are hurting. My name is Juanita, and sometimes people just need a hug. I just came over to give you a hug.”

I never saw Juanita again, but she made a lasting impression on me. Now, when I see someone alone, and especially obviously hurting, I just speak a few words. Sometimes it seems appropriate to touch them softly on the arm or give them a squeeze to one of their hands. The power of human touch and a few kind words don’t seem like much, do they, until you’re the one who needs it.

All I remember is her saying to me, “my name is Juanita, and I came to give you a hug.”  It was just what I needed that morning.

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