I walked into the hospital waiting room, still half-asleep at 5:00 am only to find my sister, Vicky, had beaten me there. She was always on time—usually early. And she had to drive for nearly an hour while we were 15 minutes away. “Good morning, honey,” she said, greeting me with that same warm bright smile she always had. She’d brought me the softest stuffed animal, a long-legged white cat—something to comfort me after I got out of surgery.
In my 49th year, the finality of never having children was finally hitting home with brute force. I was going in for a partial hysterectomy. She’d had a son, and before two abortions. I couldn’t even have one little boy. That’s all I wanted, just one little angel to hold and love and teach and learn from. When I awoke afterward, I felt the cold metal staples they’d used to “sew” me up. My stomach had been slashed and things removed that signaled the end to those “child bearing years” everyone talked about. I was always divided on having kids. I wanted one, just one, but I was impatient and a bit selfish, always wanting my writing time. Perhaps this was the way it was supposed to be.
My sister was there when I awoke, moving about the room like an angel, bringing me ice chips and wiping my face with a warm cloth. She’d spent 30 years as an RN, padding around in her white shoes, dispensing medications, holding hands, smiling that smile. I was finally the recipient and I realized how lucky her patients had been. She looked down on me, her radiant smile like a warm sun on a chilly afternoon, talking in calming tones that made everything better.
There was a little bulletin board in the room—for notes from the nurses or updated information. My sister pinned a picture of Colin Firth up there. A gorgeous 8×10 she’d found in a magazine. You couldn’t tell it was from a magazine though, and all day long, the nurses would ask, “Is that your husband?” Yes, we’d say, he’ll be coming soon. Amazing that none of them knew it was the handsome British actor. Just last night, we watched “A King’s Speech” again and my fiancée said, “Yes, Colin Firth, your hospital husband” and this story began to write itself in my head as I slept. That was nine years ago and I still have the scar and I still remember my beautiful sister who took such good care of me all day long. Everything she did was perfect. I look at her photo here on my desk and hot tears well up. I lost her to cancer last year, her son in a motorcycle accident this year. I remember those cold metal staples and how old I felt as I shuffled around the block, trying to stand up straight as I recovered. And I remember on my 50th birthday, looking out and seeing the little white Miata in the driveway with a big red bow around it that Kevin got me. Something fun and sporty to remind me I was still young and there was lots of fun ahead. There is always something we can do to make other’s lives better. I look at my sister and I in this photo and her smile fills my heart. A smile like that can change the world—it changed mine.