That Was Me!
The last place ten year old Griffin Pierce wanted to be was in the hospital but that's where he was for a surgery he didn't want anybody to know about. He was feeling intimidated, afraid, lonely and depressed being away from home, let alone being stuck in the hospital for the first time.
Griffin's father stopped by after work the first night but his mother had stayed since his early afternoon check-in. Griffin couldn't eat, fasting for the early morning operation and his parents put on a good face and positive spin but they weren't the one going under the anesthesia in the morning.
Griffin's father finally talked his wife into leaving for the night, promising Griffin that they would be back first thing in the morning and that they would stay until he was in recovery. His mother gave him extra hugs and kisses before leaving and that's when Griffin really wanted to cry - watching his parents leave the room, abandoning him in a strange and scary place.
He thought about his siblings at home. Did they miss him? Did they care that he was in the hospital? Were they thinking of him? Praying for him? Griffin let out a sigh, feeling forgotten and unimportant.
"Hello, 303A!" It was a cheerful, enthusiastic young voice.
Griffin turned his head where he lay in the hospital bed and he saw a girl about his age standing in his hospital room doorway with a big smile on her face, wearing a bathrobe over her hospital gown. He had seen her in the hallway earlier in the day when they first wheeled him into his room upon check in.
"I'm 305A," she greeted warmly, gesturing to the room across the hall.
She was short with strikingly noticeable curly blonde hair that fell to her shoulders.
"How long you been here?" Griffin asked.
"This is day three," she revealed. "Feels like forever," she added with a laugh.
"What are you in for?"
"That's private," she said dismissively. "So I won't ask you either."
"Sorry," he said sheepishly.
"You seem nervous" She observed.
"A little," Griffin admitted in a vast understatement.
"I see the 'Fasting' sign out here," she said. "Procedure tomorrow?" She guessed.
He frowned in response.
"I've had three surgeries so far," 305A let him know. "Don't worry, it will be okay."
"You don't know that," he frowned.
"Can I come in?" She asked with hopefulness.
Griffin timidly nodded okay.
The girl stepped into the room and she took the seat by his bed that his mother had been occupying most of the afternoon. "I bet you're hungry," she laughed.
"Oops, I probably shouldn't be bringing food up with you being starved," she smiled. "But the hospital grub here isn't that bad once you'll be able to eat it."
"Are you going to have surgery?" Griffin asked.
"Not sure yet," she answered. "They're still doing tests and giving me medicine to see if we can avoid it this time, as the doctor says."
"Where you from?" Griffin asked.
"Greenville," she answered proudly. "You?"
"Nice place. Who's your Doctor?"
"I have Dr. Thompson."
"Is he nice?"
She smiled. "Sure is!"
"Dr. Huggins is old and kind of grumpy," Griffin complained.
"You seem pretty miserable yourself," she observed.
"I don't like being here," Griffin admitted.
"Who does?" She asked with an eye roll. "Point is, you have to make the best of it. Think positive. Look ahead."
"Oh," he cynically replied.
"Don't worry," the girl advised. "They give you something to make you sleepy before they even take you out of here in the morning. And then when they give you the real stuff everything is over in flash. It's almost like it never happened."
"But then you actually have to recover from whatever they did," Griffin pointed out.
"That's true," 305A shrugged. "But you kind of forget about that stuff too once you get better though."
"But you've had three surgeries," he protested.
"Yeah," she shrugged indifferently. "But maybe I won't have to have any more so I focus on that. The positive."
"You're much braver than me," Griffin offered. "A lot stronger."
"I don't know if that's true," his visitor said modestly. "This is just your first time, that's all."
"I wish I was positive like you," Griffin realized. "I mean, this did get me out of school, right?" He smirked.
"I might have to repeat fifth grade," she sighed. "I've missed a lot of time."
"That bites," Griffin said.
"What's your favorite subject?" The girl asked.
"I don't really have one," Griffin admitted. "I don't really like school."
"It's just too hard," he said. "Not just learning, but trying to fit in and get along and all that stupid stuff."
"What about your family?" she asked. "I saw your parents earlier."
"My father builds houses, my mother is a teacher."
"Any brothers or sisters?"
"Three brothers, two sisters," Griffin reported. "I'm five of six so I sort of get lost in the mix." He gave her a glance. "And you?"
"My father sells insurance, my mother sells perfume at Donovan's Department Store," she reported. "They worry about me with all this sick stuff."
"I'm not sure if anybody even cares I'm even here," Griffin pouted
"Of course they do!" 305A insisted. "They just try to pretend it's no big deal so you won't worry more."
"I just hope I'm better for the family vacation," Griffin said.
"Where do you go?"
"Summer Beach," he said. "Rent a cottage for a week. Last year I almost drowned."
"A huge wave almost swept me away," Griffin reported. "It was the biggest wave I ever saw in my life. Crashed right on top of me. Mauled me. Then the undertow started dragging me out to sea. I was half knocked out. My brother had to save me."
"Kind of ironic that you're here now," his visitor remarked.
"My whole life is kind of ironic," Griffin sighed.
"What do you mean?"
"Look at me," he frowned. "Frail. Skinny. Goofy looking."
"You're not goofy looking."
"Did you notice my speech impediment?" He sighed. "I either talk to fast or I mumble. Mrs. Barnett my teacher is always on my case. 'Annunciate. Speak English.' My nickname is Mumbles. My brother says I'm retarded," Griffin said, making a face. "I get picked on a lot."
"That's why this was the last thing I needed," Griffin grumbled. "Something always seems to be going wrong for me."
"Maybe you should stop feeling so sorry for yourself," the girl suggested.
Griffin was surprised by her brash admonishment.
"Every day brings a new chance," she said as she stood and moved closer to his bed. "It's how you look at things that matters."
"You're very pretty," Griffin blurted out now that she was closer to him and he could see her features clearly.
"Thanks, but let's not change the subject," she replied. "Don't you think I should be a miserable negative person?" She wanted to know. "I've been sick all of my life."
Griffin was humbled and chagrined.
"I used to feel sorry for myself but then – when I was in here for my second surgery, Jill - the girl in the next bed - was dying from brain cancer but she was the most positive person you could possibly imagine. She made me laugh more than anybody else I've ever known."
Griffin stared at her but he didn't say anything.
"One day Jill asked me if I was afraid to die," 305A recalled with an odd smile on her face. "She said she wasn't because we should be willing to do whatever God wants us to do and if that includes dying, well then so be it."
"Are you afraid to die?" Griffin asked.
"Sometimes," she admitted. "When I'm scared about being sick or I think about it too much. But Jill taught me that we're supposed to live every day to the fullest because only then will we really appreciate the true meaning of life."
"Did she die?" Griffin asked.
"Yes," 305A said, her eyes watering a bit. "But she wasn't afraid."
"I'm sorry," Griffin said.
"She fought a hard fight," the girl said. "She didn't get the chance you and I have now but right up to the end she had the most positive attitude of anyone I'll ever meet and I think about her every day. She gives me the strength and courage to face each day with determination and hope."
"And that's why I shouldn't be such a loser," Griffin realized.
"That's why you should always think positive," she encouraged. "For Jill. Don't give up when things get tough or you're feeling down. Jill taught me to be a positive, motivated person and to value life even on the worst of days."
"I don't feel so nervous now," Griffin said, forcing a smile.
The girl beamed. "I'd better go," she said. "Good luck tomorrow."
"Thanks," he said. "And thanks for talking to me. I feel much better."
"Good," she grinned. "Then my work here is done!" She gave him a wave and then left the room.
Griffin followed her with his eyes all the way across the hall until she disappeared into the shadows of her room.