A bald head, mouth covered by the familiar blue mask, peeked around the corner. A 14 or 15 year-old-boy pulled his IV pole along behind him. His mother followed, dragging a chair on wheels and carrying a sax. He shuffled farther down the hall until he was across from Andrew’s room. His mother pulled the chair around and the boy plopped tiredly into it. He mom set up a music stand and handed the boy his sax and he just sat quietly. I wondered what was going on, especially as I could hear a muffled conversation going on between another mother and a nurse.
“She really should not be out,” exclaimed the nurse, “even with a mask! How can we do this?”
The mother answered with an edge of desperation, “But she NEEDS to be out. There are things more important than germs and the risk of infection sometimes.”
The nurse nodded understandingly and pretty soon I saw a little girl we’ll call Tess being wheeled down the hall, carefully covered with a paper gown, mask and even a head covering. She looked tired too, everyone on this ward does.
We’re newcomers here, but there is already a camaraderie– anyone dealing with child-hood cancer can understand. My own four-year-old son was too tired to even get out of bed and see what was happening.
Tess was even more tired looking than most. She mostly lay in her wheelchair, without even the energy to sit up. But her dark-circled eyes lit up, above her mask, when she spied the saxophone.
Her mom wheeled her past our room, then stopped. Other bald heads showed down the hall, carefully staying in their rooms, but desperately trying to see. The nurses were gathering.
The boy drew off his mask and the tiredness disappeared from his face. He hung his mask on the IV pole like a flag and drew his sax to his mouth. I wondered what was so important that he would risk infection.
The first note was squeaky and he flinched and started again.
This time the nurses began singing too, “Happy Birthday to you!” It was Tess’s birthday and the Make-a-wish foundation had given her a saxophone. The nurses knew the boy could play so they had whipped together a concert to celebrate.
The boy finished, and the tired but happy, carefully wrapped little girl went back to her room amidst the loud cheering and clapping of all the nurses and of all the bald children safely tucked in their rooms.A beautiful sense of the cancer caregiving community illustrated by a Sax concert #write31days via@caregivermom Click To Tweet
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