My daughter had many operations. Twelve at the last count.
Visiting the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne became a huge source of stress for her, she still has panic attacks when we drive past it, so I used to put the pink bubble like Glinda had in the The Wizard of Oz, around her before we walked through the doors. She loved the ritual of it, squeezing her little eyes tight while I wove my magic around her with my car keys.
On one particular day, after seeing a specialist, we walked to the elevator where a tween-age girl stood with her grandparents. She was in flannel pyjama’s, with hearts on them, and wore a gorgeous smile on her face.
She was obviously delayed and compromised in many ways, and her height not matching the maturity of her communication with her grandparents.
She was too thin, and had a the hospital pallor of someone who had been inside for too long. She looked so sick, I almost couldn’t bear at look because it hurt to witness such illness.
The elderly grandparents listened to her prattle about nothing, as her grandmother reached out and smoothed down her wild hair in a gesture so tender, my eyes with sudden tears.
The elevator arrived and the doors opened, and the grandparents gave the child a swift kiss and hug, then said they will see her soon. I got in with my daughter, and we stood behind them, as the girl stood outside the doors, smiling at us all.
Just before the doors closed, she pulled on her heart covered pyjamas and smiled at them. ‘I love these pyjama’s Granny,’ she said proudly.
‘I know,’ said the woman, and the doors closed and the woman turned to her husband, not even aware we were there.
‘I’ll tell Karen about that,’ she said softly, ‘ She might want her to wear them at the end.’
The man nodded and stared ahead, but in the reflection of the elevator doors, I could see the pained look on his face.
Realisation hit me, and I felt the tears fall. No matter what my daughter hd been through, we still had her, there was no talk of heart covered pyjama’s as her last set of clothing.
And then I felt my girl put her hand in mine and tugged for me to lean down to hear her whisper.
‘Pink bubble Mummy, remember, pink bubble, she had hers, you need yours.’
Christ on a cracker. Could this kid get any smarter?
She still remembers that moment. It was one of those big ones about love, life, death and the importance of surrounding yourself with things that make you happy.
I was reminded about the bubble this week by my daughter again. She’s older, and even wiser, if that’s possible.
We all need a bubble.
This is my mantra now, after a spectacularly average and unkind week.
Respect the bubble peeps.