At this time of year as we celebrate the Jewish holidays, there is a sense of renewal.
One of the things that helped me capture this feeling of renewal in my work as a Medical Clown at the Hadassah Medical Organization was to remember the special visit of the Yazidi refugees. They are brave guys with a huge heart.
The Yazidis arrived at Hadassah two months ago. They were a medical team from the refugee camps of northern Iraq and had come to train as medical clowns. They wanted to learn how to implement the medical clown program in their local clinics and hospitals and to train more clowns once they returned home.
It was a reminder to me to put things in perspective, to be thankful for all the good we have, and to open our hearts more and more. It is not a given that people in distress will want to give of themselves to other people. But giving itself is an empowering blessing, something that leads me to our story today.
Medical Clown Shiri Breuer enabled a sick, hospitalized child, who was experiencing distress, to give of herself by sharing with her something the young girl had to give. There is always something that can be given and shared.
Shiri tells the story:
I had been walking through the oncology ward when I was drawn to the sound of crying. It was the cry of a relatively older girl—a loud, prolonged cry. I walked through the hallways following the sound, wondering where it came from.
At the end of the ward, there was an isolation treatment room. Toward the end of the room, there was a large, closed glass door. On the other side of that door sat a father, a nurse, and a girl of about 12, who was in the middle of a having her blood drawn for a blood test.
The girl was crying with her eyes closed. The father was concentrating on her, calling her name. The nurse was also very busy. They did not see me, but I saw them.
Somewhere behind them, through the locked door, I began my magic trick with a spot of light. The father saw it first and responded enthusiastically. He tried to get the daughter interested, but she continued to cry with her eyes closed. At some point I ate the light. He was astonished and asked for an explanation. “This is medicine,” I explained to him. He asked for some as well. I threw the imaginary medicine through the glass door and he grabbed it! The crying stopped and the girl’s eyes opened.
We continued to play with the light, and the daughter asked to taste the wonder drug that was passing through the glass. The examination was over, and the nurse left with a smile, after she also, of course, had a taste of the imaginary medicine.
Suddenly, in one moment, the laughter disappeared, and the daughter grew sad. The father asked, “What happened, sweetie? Why are you angry?”
The girl did not answer, holding onto her anger. The father continued to coax, but it did not help. She just shut herself off and closed her eyes. His face fell. He began buttoning her sweater. She sat there like a statue, with her eyes closed. His movements were heavy. It was a touching moment. The father was full of worry and love for his daughter. I looked at that moment and remembered how hard it was to be human, and how much power a loving heart has.
While I was observing, I could not ignore the special buttons on the girl’s sweater. They were decorated with glitter and gold. I knocked on the door and asked where she got so much gold and so many diamonds. She opened her eyes. The question had reached her. I continued to stare at her, and she smiled. There was a door between us, and I tried to steal the diamonds from her like a thief.
She laughed, keeping all her gold and diamond buttons to herself with great pleasure. As the game progressed, I noticed the connection between the anger she had kept for herself earlier and the gold she was keeping now, and I had the feeling that we were on the right track. So, I stopped trying to steal (it was getting exhausting) and I turned instead to her heart. Slowly, I began to beg for her gold. She looked at me with a huge smile, pantomiming taking gold and diamonds from her clothes and imaginatively throwing them through the door—the way we threw the imaginary medicine.
I gratefully accepted the gift and put it in my pocket. I felt that she had given me something precious. We parted with declarations of love, of hugs and kisses through the glass door.”
With a Blessing of Shana Tova (Good Year), full of giving to ourselves and to those around us,
In love, Nechama (Bula Bola) and the Medical Clown team of Hadassah