Rebecca was having a good afternoon so I wheeled her to the library for an early Christmas celebration with the patients and staff at the hospital. There were balloons and streamers, musicians and face-painters, and even famous professional athletes – it was quite the party. But the most popular attraction by far was the Magician. He came in with his bag of tricks and wooed and awed the crowds of wonder-filled children.
At the end of one particular trick, a small elementary age girl, missing every strand of hair on her beautifully smooth head, sat up straight in her wheelchair and said to the magician, “Wow, you can do REAL magic!”
Living in a hospital, you begin to recognize the look of impending death. Where, outside of a miracle, the end is close at hand. This child wore that doomed look as if it was draped across her frail body. And everyone in the room knew the meaning behind this helpless girl’s hope-filled words, ‘If you can do magic, then surely you can make me well?’
The magician stopped his act and bent over so that his face of perfect health was juxtaposed against her feeble and ailing profile. And with tears in his eyes the magician answered her unsaid question, “I can only do magic tricks, if I could do real magic, there would be no need for this hospital.”
The magician had no desire to pretend to be something he was not. He knew the limits of his talent although he fervently wished, if only for a moment, that his abilities extended to the miraculous.
The little girl looked at her almost-hero, gave a knowing nod, and wrapped her arms around his neck. She accepted his limitations with a show of love. She alleviated his hurting heart.
I stood in the corner of the library watching this interaction and wept.
Oh to react with such dignified beauty when you realize your dream is forever crushed.
To reach beyond your disappointment and comfort another.
To love in the center of your tragedy.
These children, in the process of dying, teach me how to live.
They will forever be my unexpected miracles.