The Gift of Your Presence is a Beautiful Present

giftofpresenceHer voice came over the phone line, “You let me KNOW next time Andrew’s in the hospital and I’ll come sit with you!”

I thanked her sincerely and hung up. Knowing that she’d never come. We’d been at this chemotherapy for a year and a half already and most people had moved on, forgetting that we still dealt with unending hours in the hospital with my five-year-old somewhere between bored, uncomfortable, drugged sleepy and yet wide-awake—a combination only someone who’s been through childhood cancer can understand.

But the next week, the day before the spinal tap, I emailed my husband’s cousin, as requested, and let her know we’d be in the hospital in her town for about nine hours. I got no response. I expected none.

Driving through pre-dawn to arrive at the hospital for the 6:15 spinal tap, the weight of my son’s life settled on my shoulders and that “I’m all alone” feeling dogged again. Post-op we settled into a room with Dora the Explorer keeping a dopey boy occupied at twice the volume I wanted, but one that seemed to delight my boy. I tried to read but couldn’t focus. The nurse came in with Andrew’s breakfast tray and a cup of coffee for me. She smiled, “You look like you need this!”

I smiled, but didn’t touch the cup on the tray. I hate coffee. I closed my eyes, hearing the chant, “Backpack, backpack!” in the background. Goodness I hate Dora.

Suddenly, I heard a giggle. “You ready for me?” My cousin stood in the doorway with a bright smile wrapped around her face. How does she do that at eight in the morning? She blew on into the room and cracked a joke. We laughed and joked for a bit and her eyes kept drifting to Andrew’s breakfast tray. I encouraged him to eat, but her eyes weren’t looking at his food. Finally she blurted, “Are you going to drink that coffee?” I assured her I wasn’t and she grabbed it and amidst many more jokes, downed my cup of coffee. A few hours later she swept back out of the room – “Places to go, people to see.” she said.

“Call me next time you’re in for a long day. I’ll come by for your coffee!”

I didn’t think she would. It’s pretty boring sitting in there for hours. But she did. I would call, she would come, drink my free parent-coffee, crack jokes, tell stories and keep Andrew and I entertained for a couple of hours.

She moved to the other side of the country before we were done with chemo, but every time the hospital sent in my cup of coffee, I smiled. Free cup of coffee with my sister-cousin in the hospital. What a gift!

The gift of your presence is a beautiful present. #fmfparty #caregiver via @caregivermom Click To Tweet

Has someone ever gifted you with their presence?

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  • What a gift! I am so glad she was able to be there with you for a bit. I know the few times I’ve had health issues, it has always been a great comfort to have someone there with me. I only hope I can do it for someone in the near future.

  • Barbara Frohne

    We know that gift. My friend came to sit with me the day I was supposed to go out of town to a memorial service for my academy friend who succumbed to cancer. It was the same day my husband was supposed to have surgery, because he couldn’t eat on his own. The surgery got canceled because the labs weren’t right. My heart sank to it’s lowest point, and then my friend walked in. She spent the morning with me even after she found out the surgery was canceled. And when she had to leave, another friend walked in, just to be with me. She said God had sent her over, and if it was just up to her, she would have stayed home, but God wouldn’t let her. I just love those kind of friends, the ones who care, and the ones who didn’t know anything about my struggles, but still were listening to God. Glad you had such a special supporter too.

  • Hi Carol,

    I have connected with this site by reading some of Anita’s posts and came here tonight to leave her a thank you for the sweet comments over at my blog.

    And I find you.

    I continue to be captivated by what you (all, evidently) are doing over here with your honest, transparent look at life behind the drama and trauma.

    I’m so glad you are here and will continue to return to learn and glean and grow.

    Embracing the journey,

  • I enjoyed your story. There are moments when all we can do is listen, laugh, sometimes cry along with our friends especially when they need us.
    Our presents should not replace our presence.
    God Bless
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