The rain splattered against my car windshield as I grumpily drove to work. I hated my job, working as a nurse?s aide in a New York hospital. I worked in the children?s section of the hospital. Every day more kids arrived, which meant I had to change more hospital beds and clean up more messes. This was not my idea of fun. The only reason I had taken the job as a nurse?s aide was to make enough money to live in New York City. However, I was thankful that this job would only last two more weeks. Last week my dream had finally come true. I was offered a job in a chorus line of an off Broadway production. Soon I would follow my childhood dream of becoming a Broadway dancer and leave this boring hospital job behind.
After parking my car, I tromped through the puddles and into the building. When I hung up my soaking wet hat and coat, I had no idea this day would change my life. As I began to gather up my cleaning supplies to begin my daily routine, I saw one of my co-workers near by.
“Are there any new arrivals?” I asked.
I hurried up to Room 209. Every new patient required fresh bed sheets and a clean room. It was my job to make sure they had them. I came in contact with patients quite often because I was always cleaning their rooms. However, I knew it was not a good idea to become attached to any of the kids. Co-workers had informed me that they had become fond of a child, only to have their hearts broken when the child didn?t survive. I had been careful not to make the same mistake. I did my job and didn?t think much about the sick kids.
Just as I finished cleaning the room, two young girls entered in wheel chairs. They were both pale and sick. One was a small girl with a look of exhaustion on her face. Her name was Patty. The other girl looked like she was about eleven years old and had pretty brown eyes. When she saw me, she asked me what my name was.
“Catherine,” I replied.
“My name is Angela,” she said.
A huge smile flashed across her small, petite face. I instantly liked this little girl. Angela and I talked for a half hour after her arrival. She told me about her two brothers, her mom and dad. She also said she had two friendly dogs and one persnickety cat. She couldn?t wait until she could return home. I finally left the room to allow her and her room mate to sleep. As I was closing the door to their room, I looked up and saw Dr. Mahoney looking into their room.
Over the next two weeks, I visited both Patty and Angela. Sometimes I listened as Angela told Patty funny stories. Other times I watched as Angela simply gave Patty the attention and love she needed when she felt alone and scared. I read both of them stories and brought them surprises, like candy and magazines. One day I curiously peeked into Room 209 and heard Angela talking to Patty.
She whispered, “No matter how badly you feel, you can?t give up. Never giving up is what has gotten me this far. You?re a really good friend and I don?t want to lose you, Patty.” After hearing those words, I wondered where Angela found so much strength. It amazed me that she could be so brave and hopeful. Most kids would be overwhelmed by such a serious illness and would give up hope. This wasn?t true about Angela. She was not only cheerful and optimistic herself, but she also managed to encourage her roommate, Patty.
As the weeks dwindled down to just a few days before I was scheduled to leave for my new job, I found myself feeling sad to leave the two girls behind. Both Angela and Patty were great little girls and they had become friends to me. I felt I was responsible for them and I worried about who would give them attention when I left.
Eventually my last day as a nurse?s aide arrived. I was both excited and sad. I was excited to start my new career as a dancer on Broadway. However, I was sad to leave Angela and Patty. I decided to visit them one last time and say goodbye. As I entered the room, both Angela?s and Patty?s smiling faces greeted me. They were both still pale and weak, but both were in good spirits. I told them that this would be my last day with them. They were both sad, but cheered up when I promised to visit them soon. My career as an nurse?s aide ended with hugs from my two new friends.
The following Monday, I began my dancing career. It was harder than I had expected. To my dismay, I was placed in the very back row where I could barely be seen. Each night, I returned home exhausted from a grueling practice session. The other dancers were unfriendly and were only interested in their own success. As the weeks passed, I thought more and more of Angela and Patty. A little more than a month had passed and I had promised to visit the girls. I decided to visit them tomorrow.
As I drove to the hospital, listening to an old Beatles tape, I was in a good mood. Angela and Patty would be surprised to see me and I couldn?t wait to see them. I parked my car and walked up the steps to the children?s wing of the hospital. After saying hello to my former co-workers, I headed to Room 209. My excitement was building. I opened the door and poked my head into the room. For a second my heart stopped. What I saw startled me. Patty looked up at me and happily smiled. However, when she saw my startled face, her smile went away. Looking at the empty bed beside her, she confirmed my fears.
“Angela didn?t make it,” she said sadly. “She was fine until a week ago. The doctors took her to the intensive care unit and she never came back. The doctor came a few days later and told me she passed away.”
Fighting back my tears, I gave Patty a hug. I felt so sorry for her. She was such a sick little girl and now her friend was gone. What else could possibly happen to this young girl? However, as I looked at her, I realized that she looked much better than the last time I saw her.
Patty then told me she would be released from the hospital in a week. The doctors had tried a new treatment on her and she had reacted to it very well.
“The new treatment helped me, but Angela was the main reason I?m going to make it,” Patty said . “Angela never seemed afraid of her cancer and she showed me I had to be brave too. She told me to never give up and I haven?t.”
I stayed and talked with Patty for over an hour. We talked about how brave Angela had been and what a wonderful friend she was. As I was driving home, a thought suddenly crossed my mind. As crazy as it sounded, I wanted to leave my job as a dancer and return to the hospital. Dancing in the back row of a chorus line was not all that great. I wanted to be around the kids in the hospital once again. Working in the hospital had been more than just cleaning rooms. After I started talking to Patty and Angela, the job meant much more. It meant making an impact on their lives for the better. I wanted to be able to do this for other children, too. With that thought in my mind, I drove home and never returned to my job as a Broadway dancer. Two little girls had helped me discover the career that was right for me.