We sat outside in the waiting room on a long wooden bench. Big metal, double doors separated us from our final destination. The familiar warning signs indicating that radiation was prevalent in the area was posted along several walls and on the big doors. Week after week we took our seats, almost silently. Sometimes the same faces would nod to one another, but usually there was a stillness and the endless time spent waiting until a name was called……then the doors would open briefly to allow the patient to enter. This was the routine.
As the holidays approached, someone in the hospital decided it would be “cheery” to decorate these doors with Christmas wrapping paper and run ribbon up the middle and across to simulate a present. It was a genuine gesture of kindness, but somehow it seemed oddly peculiar.
But, one day, as we all sat there in silence, I saw a small corner of wrapping paper still taped to the door. Someone had forgotten to remove all of the paper. Here it was nearly Easter, I thought, and Christmas paper was still in our presence. So….I reached down to remove the torn and tattered corner.
Then, something caught my eye. The word “JOY” was imprinted on this small scrap of paper…paper barely large enough to contain these three letters. I was weary and tired and drained. How, I thought, could one find “JOY” in any of this? Certainly, I felt no such feeling. There was no trash container in sight, so I put the scrap of paper into my purse, thinking I would discard it later.
Months passed. There were good days, and not so good days. Consultations, decisions, hospitalizations, appointments. Then one day while waiting outside these same doors I decided to go through my purse and discard some of the items that so mysteriously seemed to collect in my handbag. At the bottom of my purse, I found the small scrap of Christmas paper. “Joy” it said. Yes, I remembered where it came from…..from right over there on that big metal door. Here it was nearly Easter. It seemed years had passed since Christmas. How strange that I still had this paper in my purse.
As I held it in my hand, I prayed: “Dear God, please be with my son today as he takes his final radiation treatment.” It was a simple prayer, but sincere. A few moments later I was escorted into the doctor’s office, and subsequently joined by my son. It was evident the news was good, for there were smiles on the doctors’ faces. There would be no further radiation treatments. The scans indicated the tumor was gone. I’ve kept that small scrap of paper in my wallet as a reminder. God had sent me a message…..months before. I just didn’t know it.
Seventeen years have passed, and today I will be babysitting three little boys…..my son’s sons. As I look at them and recall this time so many years gone by…..oh, the joy that fills my soul! Thank you God for that simple message you sent my way so long ago, printed on torn Christmas paper. I thank you for the joy and love you show me daily….in so many different ways.