Lisa’s hand shook as she wrote. Eighteen years ago she walked through the doors of Golisano’s Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit certain her faith would sustain her through all nursing duties. Faith was the very thing that prompted penning her resignation. Faith Barlowe.
Fresh tears dropped on the letter. No other patient seized Lisa’s heart like Faith. Lisa wrote while reflecting on the irony. Faith was a heart patient. Faith’s actual heart lacked life but that six year old gave heart with reckless abandon. Her smile lit the wing full of the RSV rattle, diabetic setbacks, and cancer treatments. Her laugh danced through the halls of green and blue scrubs racing to the next patient. Faith’s death silenced the hope Lisa felt for her work. Dr. Baker’s offer to join him in private practice was a safe retreat with better hours, minor medical problems and amazing benefits. All Lisa had to do was deliver her resignation.
“Hey ya Lis, got a package for you.” Lisa jerked her head to discover Stan, the affable delivery person for the floor. He was a member of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, an organization where 5 senior volunteers, including Stan’s wife Shirley, served as readers, greeters and delivery volunteers. He handed her a box with a wink. It was wrapped in plain brown paper, the size of a coat box.
“Looks special.” Stan observed, lingering over Lisa’s shoulder. Lisa let out a hmmm as she opened the box. A glance of the return address revealed a familiar name.
“It’s breathtaking.” Lisa pulled the homemade queen sized quilt out of the box. Stan saw Lisa struggle with the size and grabbed a corner. The blocks were individual handprints, tiny baby hands, toddler prints and school age mitts. It was obvious this quilt was made with precision and pure love for children. As Stan shook his corner to free the quilt from wrinkles, an envelope fell at Lisa’s feet. She kept holding her corner and reached for the envelope. She looked to Stan, who innocently shrugged.
They folded the quilt and placed it on the nurse’s station front desk. Lisa opened the envelope and discovered a letter. Her lip started to tremble as she read.
As you might know, we’ve been volunteers here at the hospital as long as you’ve worked here. We’ve seen a lot together, haven’t we? Sometimes Stan and I literally fall on our knees at the foot of the cross and how He moves in spite of our unbelief. There are days we go home and weep at the injustice of it all, a sick child our volunteerism can’t heal. Years ago it was our daughter that needed pediatric services above and beyond our local hospital. We broke to the point of surrender and the Lord chose to heal her. She’s now thirty-four. We wanted to give back, always give, just as Faith Barlowe daily challenged us.’
Lisa couldn’t retrieve the sob escaping from her mouth. Stan squeezed her shoulder and gently took the letter to read on. His voice wavered a little as he finished his wife’s thoughts.
‘Lisa, nursing here is your call, your field, your craft, your passion, your purpose. Anything less than what you do here and Faith’s story returns void. My quilting is my craft, my talent, my joy. While we read stories and delivered balloons we also received permission to draw each child’s handprint. From Tommy Johannsen and his car accident injuries to Stephanie Walker’s severe asthma attack, their prints are here. I saw it only fitting to place Faith’s handprint in the middle. Your imprint on their lives, no matter what the outcome of their stay, is eternal. May this quilt remind you of the difference you make and how you’re needed. In Christ’s Love, Stan and Shirley Whitaker.’
Lisa turned to Stan and tried to verbalize her thanks but could only give a hug filled with wet tears on his shoulder. His own eyes moist, a single tear slid down his ruddy cheek.
“My wife’s pretty good isn’t she?” Stan questioned, looking to the prints. Lisa sighed, tracing Faith’s handprint and embroidered name beneath. Her eyes were on the quilt, but her heart was focused on the resignation letter. She reached over, picked up her written surrender, crumpled it into a ball and tossed it in the garbage.
“You have no idea Stan, you have no idea.”
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