Last year, like many others, I participated in the #OneWord challenge. One Word is a unique way to reflect and focus on something meaningful to you in the upcoming year that can be expressed in one word. My 2017 ‘word’ was compassionate.
I thought I knew and understood compassion. But it wasn’t until I found myself in the neurosurgical ICU holding my husband’s hand praying he would survive the weekend that a whole new experience opened up to me. It is in this experience that the depth of compassion fully struck me.
Much of my writing and work with youth revolves around compassionate making. Where we actively use our makerspace to create items for others with the hope of alleviating suffering around the world. While I thought I knew compassion and how to inspire and share compassionate acts, it has been the past four months that have given me a new perspective and deeper understanding.
My husband is a well-respected physician in our community. Over and over again I’ve been told by patients and colleagues how much they admire his kindness and compassion. Since this past August, it has been his turn to be the patient and the recipient of kindness and compassion.
Day in and day out, millions of healthcare providers demonstrate compassion on a daily basis. My husband, myself and our family have seen and experienced the beauty of compassion in a healthcare environment. Even when my husband transferred to a different unit on another floor, nurses and aides from the previous unit would visit on him and check up on me. Such beauty in dedication and caring.
There is a new place in my heart for those who train and work with therapy dogs. Thanks to these caring, dedicated people, patients stuck in healthcare facilities can feel a loving connection even though they are away from their own furry family members.
Nate’s Get Well Bot
Even our three year old nephew tried to help. It’s not typical to bring a three-year old to an ICU unit, but Nate wanted to visit Uncle Alan and my niece wanted to ensure my well-being. Leery at first because he didn’t understand all the beeping machines, his mother explained the machines were robots to make people better. Later that evening Nate decided he needed to design a robot to make Uncle Alan better. Never underestimate the depth of compassion our youth have.
During the course of my husband’s extended stay, probably due to multiple blood draws during this time, he required a blood transfusion. We host an annual blood drive at my high school every year and I can honestly say I never really thought about the act of donating blood and specifically how it affects the patient and his/her family. I want to take this time to thank each and every blood donor for their precious gift – giving of themselves in such a selfless act.
Over the months, there have been so many kind and compassionate friends, co-workers, colleagues and acquaintances who gave gifts, provided kind words of encouragement, food and copious amounts of wine and chocolate. I truly experienced compassion on a daily basis.
As you can tell from my previous blog posts, I embrace a maker mindset and specifically sharing that enthusiasm with youth mostly in the form of making for others. We were delighted to be the recipients of some creative youth maker activities, especially our Hanukkah gift from students at Bais Yaakov. It’s not fun celebrating traditionally home based holidays in a hospital setting.
What will 2018 hold in store for us? No one ever truly knows. Perhaps, my one word for 2018 should be gratitude – gratitude to be alive, gratitude for compassionate people in our lives. I am grateful for so many things I previously took for granted. Though, I must admit, I was leaning towards patience for this year’s word as I know this journey is not over. Perhaps should fill my 2018 #oneword plate with gratitude (and a side of patience).