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Her transformation is stunning.

What matters to her now is what she sees from inside her world. She sees people in the hospital rooms around her. Scared, lonely, in pain, hopeless. Being sick gives her heart understanding. She knows what it means to wake up in the middle of the night in a hospital room, surrounded by strangers, unfamiliar sounds, longing for home and a familiar bed. She understands everything they are going through because she is going through it too. Only for her, it has become a blessing. She actually thanks God in her prayers for this challenge and opportunity. That is what she calls it - an opportunity.  It has taught her selflessness and compassion and kindness. I have watched it help her reach her greatest potential as a human being, and so I too, am thankful for the growth I have seen in her.

And she gives. If you bring her an angel, which many people do, it disappears. You might see it if you happen to peek into the other patients’ rooms on your next visit. If you bring her a teddy bear, it somehow finds its way into the arms of the elderly cancer patient next door. She loves bears. And my sister loves her. She gives everything she has. Everything. The gifts her many visitors bring are quickly and with great love given to someone else whose pain can be banished, if even for a moment. Giving to others makes her feel alive. It makes her happy.

Angel’s smile lights up the room, and the instant the other patients see her, they feel the warmth of her love and genuine compassion. For many of them, Angel is the only visitor for days at a time. She waits for us to visit, or for a nurse to have a free moment, so that she can be wheeled on her weaker days, or lean on, in her stronger days, to make her "rounds".

Arriving on her floor, the elevator dings and the doors open. I quickly brush the tears away and force my brightest smile for her. I stride into her room with her special request and lay the bright red roses on her bed, where she impatiently waits. Other bouquets that our mom and sister, Lisa have brought have already been distributed, but she isn’t done, and I am holding her up. Grinning into her sparkling eyes, I help her into the wheelchair, and lay the vivid roses in her lap. I watch in wonder as she carefully separates each individual rose with her left hand - the one not paralyzed. Her entire right side is paralyzed by her brain tumor, but to her, this is just an annoying inconvenience. It doesn't stop her. Her whole body trembles from the meds and the exertion, but she ignores this; it does not stop her. Today is not a Strong Day, so we take the wheelchair.  She is fighting for her breath, to push on, to have enough strength, but she does not let it stop her.  Angel and I then begin our trek to each room on the floor that she hasn’t already visited. I feel lucky to tag along with this miracle in a wheelchair. My sister.

Slowly she makes her way to every room, and I watch the faces, full of pain, transform into radiant smiles as they see my sister. She has this way of bringing light and goodness, of touching hearts. She makes them forget, for just a few wonderful moments, that they are in a hospital. For their few moments with her, they feel the joy of God's love, as pure as spring rain and as warm as sunshine breaking through the clouds. She brings into each room smiles and kindness, and leaves behind a lingering spirit of hope.

She is tired and we finish our visits, leaving each patient not only the beautiful roses, but also a sense of being loved, of goodness, and the spirit of giving. She has become everyone’s Healing Angel.

 

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