While juggling multiple roles, don’t forget you are important too. Make yourself a priority because no one else will with #KhayaalRakhna
“Each day I volunteer in the hospital helps me put everything in perspective,” says this author. “More importantly, it helps you understand the importance of love and compassion.”
It was the weekend after a hectic week at work. An extremely gloomy and chilly day in January, I noticed that it was still dark outside. Not ready to get out of the comfort of my warm blanket, I squinted my eyes to look at the wall clock hoping I had at least an hour still to wake up. But alas, I was already a few minutes late.
Not an early morning person, reluctantly, I forced myself out of my warm bed to get ready for my volunteer job at a hospital nearby. A job that I had applied for a few months back, as my now older kids did not need me as much as they used to and I had some spare time that I decided to spend doing something useful.
This was my fourth weekend at my job and I was looking forward to it as each day at the job taught me something new.
As a volunteer at the hospital, I spend 4 hours every Saturday in the family room assisting pediatric inpatient families that have children hospitalized. It is a place within the hospital where families can relax and rest while still being close to their child. My role as a Family Room Volunteer was to staff the room with supplies, assist where I can and be supportive to the families who use the room. I had deliberately chosen this volunteer position as I had always wanted to help children in some way and this position allowed me to do so although indirectly.
I was not expecting my job to be anything but ordinary. However, little did I know that this job will teach me lessons in life I never would have learned otherwise.
There were single parents, often mothers who were exhausted from the curve balls that life had thrown at them. I saw women who were taking care of their sick children while managing a full time job and a family at home. Women, who tried to remain cheerful and optimistic for the sake of other members in the family, trying to retain some normalcy in their otherwise heart wrenching and painful lives.
And then there were couples trying to keep their relationships barely alive while managing the stress of taking care of a sick child. Not everyone were ready to unwind or vent to others in the room, but some of them did and it was heartening to watch them share and console each other. No doubt that nearly all of them visiting the room were going through some of their unfortunate moments in life, but it was touching to see that some of them had the strength and the mind to listen and comfort others going through similar yet agonizing circumstances in life. Someone once said “It’s in the darkest moments that we find our greatest strengths” and I saw that first hand in that family room.
I wasn’t expecting anything different today and I was ready to learn some life lessons. An extremely busy day at the hospital, it felt like I had just started, and I couldn’t believe that it was already two hours since I signed in.
A short while ago, I had assisted an impoverished white man with his registration and had helped him settle in. Just like nearly all the visitors, I assumed he was visiting the family room to take a quick break and rest. I noticed that he was wearing an old pair of denim blue jeans that were shredded in the knees. His torn T-shirt was visible under his faded grey jacket that would have been once green. With a worn-out bible in his hands, he had made himself comfortable on the couch. It is never easy when someone in the family is sick and hospitalized, but it is a double whammy if you do not have the means or finances to manage the skyrocketing medical expenses that come with it. I could not imagine the hardships this man must be going through. All that I could do was hope that his difficulties do not last long.
I returned back to my task of arranging supplies when a middle aged African American woman entered the room. After registering herself, she headed for the coffee machine. I was glad that I had switched on the coffee machine when I came in that morning. Sure enough, the coffee was ready and she made herself a hot cup of coffee. I saw her walking towards me. “Thank you for the hot coffee. I desperately needed the coffee after a disappointing day.” She paused briefly and continued,” I did not get the news I was hoping for this morning. My son’s doctor said that my son may need to stay in the hospital longer. As a single mother with a low paying job and no other financial aid to fall back on, I can barely make ends meet. I am trying to save every penny I get, so I have enough money left for my family’s next meal. I just hope that my son gets better soon and is able to leave the hospital.” I said I was sorry and told her that I also hoped things get better for her and her son. After a while, she said she wanted to take a shower and I guided her to the bathroom and showed her where to find the supplies.
Shortly afterwards, the man with the bible got up from the couch and walked towards me. “Hope you can do me a favor. My pastor gave me 70 dollars this morning. Can you please give 50 dollars to the lady who was talking to you a few minutes back, as she needs the money more than I do? I wish I could wait for her and personally hand over the cash, but I cannot wait anymore as I will need to head back to the inpatient room to see my daughter,” saying this he handed over the cash to me. It was extremely generous of him and it was totally unexpected. Speechless for a moment, I thanked him for his generosity and told him that I will promptly hand over the cash to the lady.
In all likelihood, the cash he had thoughtfully given away may be all that he had that day and presumably for the next few days. It was very likely that he was in a similar, if not worst financial state than the woman and yet he shared his money without thinking twice. In a world where people are judged by their skin color and racism is the new norm, where millionaires willingly spend millions for their family weddings, but are not ready to give back to the communities that are suffering, this man stood out due to his compassion. With his simple act of kindness and selflessness, he restored my faith in humanity.
Compassion is to look beyond your own pain, to see the pain of others – Yasmin Mogahed
Each day I volunteer in the hospital helps me put everything in perspective. When you serve your community without expecting anything back, it opens your eyes and mind to things that you would never see or experience otherwise. It helps you to reflect on the more important things in life, such as family, health and friends and focus less on the unimportant things that doesn’t truly matter in the end. More importantly, it helps you understand the importance of love and compassion.
We can’t heal the world today, but we can begin with a voice of compassion, a heart of love, an act of kindness – Mary Davis
Image source: pexels
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