Moments of crisis require a decision: Will we hold our tongue and act with grace toward those around us, or will we allow our angst to overtake our mouth and spew out the fear that certainly feels like a natural reaction in times of trouble?
If you were in the emergency room with your child, would you be the one filled with gratitude toward the people who were trying to help or would you be the crazy person biting off their heads for not working fast enough?
Both people feel the same love for their child. Both feel the same anguish at their own helplessness. It seems to me, deep down, we must have the ability to choose our actions.
A woman named Shawnda sent me the following story. I can feel the panic in her heart, yet instead of running down the hospital hallways screaming for someone to “HELP!,” she stayed calm and found the kindness she so desperately needed.
Here’s her story.
“‘Do you feel safe?’ the ER nurse asked me. I’m holding my sick child, and I looked at him puzzled and repeated the question, ‘Do I feel safe?’ He looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Do you feel safe at home?’ Oh, now I get it … ‘Yes, of course I feel safe at home!’ I didn’t realize what an impact that question would have on me for the rest of the day and still now.
“I was holding my daughter so close, waiting for the doctor and thinking of the other mothers that don’t have the same answer.
“My daughter’s belly had been really aching for more than 24 hours. I tried to not overreact, but it started to worry me. This little girl is a tough cookie, maybe a bit dramatic at times, but a tough cookie. I called the emergency pediatric line and went over her symptoms. They told me to go to the hospital.
“As I was pulling out of our driveway, my daughter, Kendal, started screaming in pain, doubled over. ‘How many minutes until we get there? Which way is the fastest, Mommy? This hurts too much!’ I did everything I could do to try to calm her (and me) down and just focus on getting there. Her screams and crying were louder, she was bent over in pain, and my mind raced to the worst possible scenarios.
“We arrived at the hospital for a series of tests. The doctor was so kind and knowledgeable. He helped to ease my mind, but my daughter was still in pain and we still had no remedy. We had to wait for the urinalysis and X-rays to come back.
“I sat in the quiet with my hand on my child and waited and prayed. She was in so much discomfort, it was hard for her to breathe. I was helpless and totally freaked out. Where was everyone? I pushed the nurse on-call button twice. No response. I stepped away from my daughter’s bed and was suddenly met by a sweet young woman. It felt like meeting an angel. She had the most beautiful blue eyes and calm spirit.
“She walked right in, got a cold wet washcloth and focused all of that calm energy on Kendal. She placed her hand on her back and tightly held her other hand and told Kendal to breathe in through her nose and out her mouth. Kendal found a rhythm and breathed through the terrible pain. I watched, knowing as a mother I would have taken that pain a thousand times over if I could only have taken it away from her.
“When the doctor came back, we were working our way out of the woods. It had been confirmed. Kendal had a painful urinary tract infection and some blockage in her intestines, but she was going to be fine.
“As we waited for the discharge paperwork, I reflected on the question from the beginning, ‘Do you feel safe?’ We were treated with a kindness and gentleness that I will never forget. Yes, I feel safe among the amazing angels that are on this earth taking the form of strangers, doctors, nurses and even dear friends.”
I’m hoping we can all be inspired by Shawnda’s story, to remember that our calmness in times of crisis will help us see the kindness around us.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.