Life coach Barb Boschetto's meditation on being there for families in treatment.
My first day volunteering with Kids & Art at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital was surreal. Surreal is the best word I could think of as I witness young parents bringing their children in one at a time. All ages, all genders, all races. Cancer did not discriminate. Surreal.
In my body of work I never engage in a coaching conversation unless approached. Purvi and I had discussed how important it is for the parents to have someone outside their inner circle to freely express their thoughts and feelings to. I was volunteering to be a conversational distraction to the parents as they passed time in the waiting room.
On this day there were a few newcomers. They couldn’t take their eyes off their children. It was the eyes that got me. There was so much going on behind those eyes. I saw limitless love in a way I had never witnessed. I watched as parents settled in and zoned out as they started a long day of waiting to hear their child’s name be called for treatment.
I sat next to a man and woman who were with their four-year-old daughter who jumped right in to start her art project. The mother sat in silence staring down. She was seven months pregnant. The father said they had only been in America for a year before this diagnosis. He shared with me about how they found out their daughter had Leukemia, where they were, what they were doing and how life had stopped on the day.
It was almost like he still did not believe this was happening and he needed to hear it out loud. I knew in that moment that was what I was there to do. I was there to let them speak and so he could hear his own words out loud. No input, just listening. This father had a light about him. He asked about my own children and how I had come to volunteer.
Shiraaz Bhabha led the volunteers in group art with the children. During those two hours on this day the children were making colorful handprints. Not all children wanted to participate. Some sat back and watched. One mother was so excited that she finally had a handprint from her little son. He hated putting his hands in anything, but on this day, he had made the most beautiful hand print. It was rewarding to watch her smile.
While leaving the hospital I passed the young man and his daughter and wife. I waved and wished them the best and he shouted out "Thank you! So nice to talk you!" The experience of watching the children get excited about art while they were facing chemo was priceless.
Children have a way of finding the fun in everything. There was something about that day that shifted my perception of life. What took place in the hospital was real, while stepping to the outside was not.
Prior to volunteering with Kids & Art I had found it difficult to volunteer when children were ill. I have no clue why I had a resistance, but I did. The experience left me knowing that there was nothing to fear. There was beauty and blessings in these memorable moments. I was hooked.