Surgery for a little kid named “Danny”

“Danny” Is Our Kid,Too

As 2006 was passing into history, I found myself at 5:30 in the morning in the back seat of Grandma Jane’s car trying to comfort a very anxious little seven-year-old boy. “Danny,” one of the kids living at the Children’s Village, had blockage in the Eustachian tube in his ear and needed to have surgery to correct the problem. Not major surgery we were assured but the procedure is delicate enough to require that Danny be put under for a few minutes. That worried me. He is a frail kid and, like many of the kids at our village, physically and emotionally fragile. Grandma Jane, one of my fellow surrogate grandparents at the Children’s Village, shared with me her apprehension about the effect of general anesthesia on his little body.

I glanced at Danny cuddled up in the back seat. He seemed lost and vulnerable in an oversize blanket he had insisted on dragging along from his bed. He smiled up at me revealing his missing front tooth. (Only yesterday, checking himself out in a mirror, he asked us “Am I turning into a beaver?”) It dawned on me how much I cared about this little guy. It was almost as though he were my kid or grandchild.

When we arrived at the hospital, Grandma Jane and I helped Danny out of his clothes and into one of those silly hospital gowns. I was struck by the gentle caring way the nurses related to the little guy. For this moment in time, he became THEIR kid.

Jane and I waited nervously in the waiting room for the surgery to be over. We didn’t say much. Our minds were in the operating room with OUR kid. We didn’t have to wait long. The surgeon came out to tell us that all went well and gave us some routine post-op instructions about how he was to be kept quiet for the day, food he was allowed etc. I asked specifically if he could drink a Pepsi (the kid is nuts about Pepsi) and was relieved to hear that he could.

When we went in to the recovery room, Danny was pretty spaced out from the effects of the anesthesia. He was whimpering softly. The nurse stayed with us while we all coaxed him back, oh so tenderly, to planet earth. We got him dressed and cheered with a hospital gift of a Disney video, we took Danny “home” to the Children’s Village.

Looking in on him later, he was feeling much better quenching his thirst with his Pepsi while one of the older village kids paged through a magazine with him. Today, with the remarkable resilience of children, he is back to his normal self except for the fact that his hearing is much improved. Yea for Medi-Cal!

You can look at Danny’s story as just a little slice of life; there’s nothing very remarkable about a little kid undergoing a relatively minor surgery. But I see lots of stories there. First of all, I saw an abused child finally in a safe place under the care of people who have taken him in as their own. We are fortunate to live under a court system and in a country, which makes sure that this kind of thing happens.

There is a bigger picture, too. What is in our character as human beings which almost compel us to respond when we see a little child in need? Grandma Jane and I and the nurses in the hospital and the doctor who was so gentle are not unusual people. We are part of the human race, which, for all its flaws, loves, and protect its young. Sadly, there are exceptions. Child abuse and neglect have always co-existed along with our care and concern. But for the overwhelming majority of us, not only our own children but all children are very precious. We see a kid in danger, we run to help.

It’s very easy to point to the sins of humanity. Lord knows, we can and should all beat our collective breast over the wrongs we have done and the good we have failed to do. But, you know something? We ain’t all bad. Goodness and concern and love for our children not only exists; it flourishes.

“I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For”

“ I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls…

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Lyrics from a U-2 song

The popular Irish Rock group has contributed some beautiful music to this generation but no song more hauntingly beautiful than this one, “But I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” The refrain speaks to our human condition, our yearning to be more than we are, to fulfill our longing for happiness while, at the same time, acknowledging that we are not there yet and perhaps will never realize the dreams that lie buried within us.

In that sense, it is a sad song, asking us to accept a difficult truth about ourselves. Despite our best efforts, we will never arrive at perfect contentment in our lives. St.Augustine, approaching this longing in our souls from the perspective of a man of God, spoke to this same human restlessness in his Confessions when he said, “Our hearts were made for Thee, O Lord, and will never rest until they rest in Thee.”

But this yearning in our soul is not necessarily connected with any religious belief at all. It springs from the deepest recesses of our hearts, be we monk or atheist. Our longing is an integral part of what makes us human.

.

While those of us in the autumn of our lives may respond most readily to the search for meaning in our lives, we are not the only ones who experience that we “still haven’t found what we’re looking for.” Younger generations also know what it is to realize that despite their best efforts, there is always something missing in their lives. Far from being immune to our human angst, youth is more vulnerable than older people are. We oldsters have at least the benefit of life experience to know there are peaks and valleys in our journey through life, that light the does follow the darkness, a knowledge hidden to the young and inexperienced.

The poet Robert Browning saw in our unfulfilled yearning for happiness in this life, a harbinger of a better life to come. “Ah, a man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for.” Believers have always held out this hope for a peace that is attainable in another life, a life that transcends anything we have ever experienced on earth.

Most of us do believe or try to believe in some kind of afterlife even though we are pretty hazy over what it will be like, but meanwhile all we can do is make the most of the life we have. Because, you know something? What we have is pretty darn precious. No, we will never have ALL we are searching for in this life but one of life’s great secrets is using our brain and our heart to appreciate what we do have.

The aroma of fresh popcorn, the taste of hot apple pie, the sound of good music, the warm fuzzy feeling you get from watching two young people in love, the glow you receive when you know you have done something right, the thrill you experience at your grandbaby’s first smile, feeling the soft spring rain upon your face, a hug from an understanding friend. These are pretty cool things. And they are part of our here and now.

It would be a shame if in yearning for what we don’t have, we forget to enjoy what we have. Don’t you think?