It is never too late to be what you might have been.
- George Eliot
I’ve had only a couple of really big scares in my life, those moments when time seems to stop and fear completely takes over. One was when I was 11 and woke up in a hospital bed.
I didn’t know that I had been hit by a speeding car while I was riding my bike. The head injury I’d suffered had wiped out any memory of the accident except for one panicky flash of fighting for my life in the back of an ambulance with my mother leaning over me and praying. I don’t remember anything else from the days leading up to the accident or for a week after, until I woke up.
I tried to move my legs but they were attached to something heavy, a traction bar. In fact I was attached to a lot of stuff. It was terrifying.
Our pastor, Father Walling, and the hospital chaplain happened to be in the room. Father Walling explained that I had a fractured pelvis, among other things, which was why I couldn’t move. The chaplain went to find my parents in the cafeteria where they had gone for a quick bite. A nurse rushed in, fluffed up my pillow and asked me if I’d like some ice chips. Then came my parents and a doctor. I couldn’t take it all in. I was frightened that I was in the hospital but relieved my parents and pastor were there. Everyone said I would be all right and I believed them. But I didn’t feel all right. It was very confusing.
I was able to go home a week or so later and spent the rest of the summer flat on my back in bed. At least I was home. I’ll never forget that time in the hospital, though. Hospitals are frightening places for kids no matter how reassuring and attentive the staff is. Being in the hospital means that something is wrong, and that’s scary for both the child and his family.
Like most kids in that situation what I needed as much as good medical attention was comfort. I knew everyone was praying for me and that the doctors were doing their best but something more tangible would have helped me with my anxiety, something I could engage with during all those lonely hours of waiting and wondering. Something like a Guideposts Comfort Kit for sick and hospitalized kids.
We’ve been distributing Comfort Kits to hospitals since 2007, often with the help of chaplains. Comfort Kits are good feelings in a box—a lightweight but sturdy little box packed with hope and inspiration. The star of the Comfort Kits is—literally—a plush, smiling, star-shaped pillow named Sparkle. I haven’t met a kid yet who could resist Sparkle.
There’s more: a journal, a CD of soothing music, a stress ball, a stand-up prayer card, crayons, star cutouts and stickers, a starburst name tag and an “I’m Special” silicone bracelet. Every child is special but especially those who are hospitalized and in need of comfort and reassurance.
Our amazing Outreach division provides Comfort Kits free to kids ages 4 to 13 all over the country in partnership with hundreds of hospitals and with your generous help. This month we will deliver our 100,000th Comfort Kit to a child in need. We couldn’t have done it without you so I thought you should know and I wanted to say thanks.
To learn more about the program, go to the Comfort Kits Facebook page. Read some testimonials that will really touch your heart and find out how you can help Sparkle bring joy to a sick child.
By the way, that’s me in the picture with the life-size Sparkle at an Outreach event.
Edward Grinnan is Editor-in-Chief and Vice President of Guideposts Publications. Edward lives in New York City with two blondes—his wife, Julee, and Golden Retriever, Millie, who has been featured in his blog and popular videos. Edward loves cycling, hiking with Millie at his house in the Berkshire Hills and Wolverines that hail from Michigan.
If you need a little boost of inspiration, pick up a copy of Edward's book The Promise of Hope: How True Stories of Hope and Inspiration Saved My Life and How They Can Transform Yours.