On the face of it, this week was a disaster for our family.
Our four-year-old fell off a see-saw on Sunday afternoon. The ominous crack and blood-curdling scream told me that something was definitely broken, which was confirmed soon after by x-ray as a smashed bone near her elbow. After an initial appointment at A & E, we were told to return the day after and wait for surgery.
The poor wee pet hadn’t eaten anything since the night before, but due to unforeseen circumstances it ended up that she had to wait all day before she was called to theatre. Because of COVID-19, only one of us could be with her. I had planned to relieve her dad of duty a couple of hours in, but we weren’t allowed to do this after all because of infection control.
Feeling helpless, I decided I would go and buy some food, but my car wouldn’t start. When Zoe finally did get her operation, it was much longer than planned, as was her recovery because the nurses were struggling to bring her round from the anaesthetic. When she eventually became conscious, she was pleading tearfully to go home, but because it was so late she needed to stay overnight.
Sounds like a series of unfortunate events, right?
Not if you look a little closer.
Not if you look for the helpers.
After Zoe’s fall, when it became clear that her arm was in a bad way, a nurse from a neighbouring garden came over to help. She used her own scarf to make a sling and gave us advice on which hospital to go to. We found out later that lady had just buried her father that day. And yet she chose to intervene and use her expertise to help us. Wow.
And it didn’t stop there.
After that, I saw helpers everywhere.
Our thoughtful friend made sure that Eden was delivered safely to her grandparents, while we rushed Zoe to hospital. Eden’s granny and granda made sure that she was pampered and spoiled so much that she didn’t even have time to miss her big sister.
When we arrived at the fracture clinic, we bumped into our friend, who works as a children’s nurse. She set Zoe at ease and gave her stickers to make her smile.
On the ward, the nurses fussed over Zoe and made much of her. They let try on PPE for fun, gave her books to read and compared her hair to the blonde locks of Rapunzel. That went down pretty well, as you can imagine!
When my car wouldn’t start in the carpark, a kind gentleman came over and offered to help. We got talking and it turned out this same man had lost his beautiful wife and daughter only weeks ago, and his youngest girl had been fighting for her life in intensive care. Yet he saw a need and chose to offer his help. I was completely blown away.
I witnessed senior doctors changing nappies and nurses cuddling babies whose parents had to leave them each night to go home and look after their other children. I saw mothers lovingly carry children down corridors who were undergoing cancer treatment and were finding it difficult to walk.
Sitting on the floor outside the ward waiting for Zoe to come up from recovery, a nurse on her way out at the end of a long shift stopped, asked was I alright, brought me a chair to sit on and a cheese sandwich to eat.
Our phones didn’t stop all day with messages asking for updates and expressing offers of help and support. What an encouragement to know that so many people cared and were praying for us.
And when we got home, that’s when the knocks at the door and the deliveries began. A sling that made Zoe much more comfortable, a list of groceries bought, baked treats, homemade dinners, cards, and gifts.
I saw this quote that Links Counselling posted on Facebook yesterday, and it really does frame the last few days for me beautifully:
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realising that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.Fred Rogers
We are blessed to know so many kind, thoughtful, loving and caring people. But this bump in the road has reminded me again that no matter how horrible, how terrible or how terrifying the situation in front of you, you can always look for the helpers.
If you do, you’ll see a different side to the story.
A side that fills you with hope and warms your heart.
A side that can make your soul sing again with gratitude, no matter how hard things get.
At this time in history, when there is so much darkness, injustice and uncertainty, it’s important not only to focus on acts of injustice, but also to appreciate simple acts of kindness. It’s crucial to remember those who are shining their lights and bringing hope to hopeless situations. It’s key that we don’t get so caught up in the dreariness that we miss the cheeriness. Because it’s in those moments that the beauty of the human spirit shines all the more. It’s during tough times that friendship shows its true strength. It’s through those tests of endurance that the bonds of family become ever tighter.
When disaster strikes, look for the helpers. And watch them light up the dark.