Candystriper Angel · January 1984

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When I was 14, I had some minor surgery. I had general anesthetic; I vividly remember being told to count backward from 100 and only making it to about 97.

Anyway, when I woke up from the surgery I was in pain. I went through all of the typical hospital yuckiness -- a day or two of being famished on a diet of sprite, lime jello, and ice chips; the humiliation of bedpans; having a painkiller not last all the way to the next dose; the bother of having nurses wake me up in the night to check my vital signs; unsteady walks down the hallway in an ill-fitting gown; and so forth. My family lived relatively close to the hospital, and they came to visit in the evenings, but most of the time I just lay in bed feeling bored, lonely, and miserable.

One of the afternoons as I convalesced, I heard a knock on my door and looked up to see Kim Reade, smiling cheerfully. Kim was a girl from our ward (church congregation), about my age -- a good friend of my sister Anne. She volunteered as a candystriper at the hospital, and she'd heard through the grapevine that I was recuperating. Kim had been through a number of surgeries herself; I think she was particularly attuned to how I might be feeling.

Kim's visit was simple. She just asked how I was doing, dropped off a card, and chatted for 2 or 3 minutes.

I think I got choked up as she left -- and if not, I have certainly choked up since then, thinking about that simple act of kindness. Probably Kim didn't think much about it, but it was a big deal to me. I've often thought since then that I wish I could be called as a character witness for Kim. Maybe at the judgment bar... There is nothing I would like more than to tell Kim, with others listening, how much I appreciate her thoughtfulness.

It's been years since I've seen Kim, but every time the topic of kindness comes up, her name and face come to my mind.


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