Part of my hospital chaplaincy duties is to write a reflection on how it’s going. Identities may be altered for privacy. All the writings are here.
I’ve seen love. I mean, pure love. The kind that builds you, that bursts wide open and free, the kind they tell you about, but you were afraid to believe.
A nine-year-old boy comes into the trauma bay with deep, jagged lacerations all over his back. Car accident, roll-over; dad and children nearly ejected, going fifty. His shirt is shredded. His back is really torn up, almost ribbons in several places, blood filling his shorts. He’s fidgeting, squirming, but not from his wounds. He’s trying to sit up, eyes darting, looking for someone. He’s trying to tell something to the paramedics, to the nurses and doctors, to me.
Medicine, he says in a choked whisper, medicine for my sister. She has a new kidney. Medicine.
A second later, his four year old sister is wheeled in—they had been in the same car accident. She’s in shock. Her brother keeps saying, Medicine, for my sister. She needs her kidney medicine.
A nurse replies, “On it. I’m on it, little man.”
I go to the nine year old, pull up a seat, and tell him, “You’re a good brother.”
“Thanks,” he says, finally resting his head. The nurses move around us, not missing a beat, and there’s just me and the kid, eyes locked, his eyes on fire.
“What happened?” I ask him.
“I heard the car inside make a boom, like a firecracker,” he says. “I knew something was wrong. I knew it! I grabbed my sister … and I put myself around her, because … because I didn’t want glass to get in her face.”
I remember his back. The lacerations.
Suddenly, I’m crying. I lose all professionalism. I’m just crying.
“You’re a hero,” I tell him. “You saved your sister’s life.”
“But her medicine?” he asks. “You’ll make sure she gets it? She takes it everyday for her kidney. It was the one that I gave her.”
“Yes,” I tell him, trying to smile through flooded eyes. “Yes. You’re a good brother,” I say again. “What’s your name?”
He says, “Angel.”
Of course it is.
I sit with him, quietly, as the medical team begins to work on his back. He makes no noise, except to ask how his sister is doing.
I hold back tears. I feel angry, that something like this had to happen to Angel and his sister, that we live in such a world where no child is safe from destiny, from fate, from the universe, from God, where kidneys don’t work and cars roll over—but I think about Angel covering his sister, and that on our tiny fractured little spinning rock in the random cold chaos of meaningless collision, where the world can explode in glass, one child didn’t hesitate to die for love. I think it is awful that they have to be here in this hospital, but my heart stretches to this other place, where love is powerful and real, and that within lawless disorder, very beautiful things can still happen, and that perhaps pure love must be born through pain, through the life of another.