The bravest person I know is 11 weeks and 2 days old. Her name is Annie. She lays quietly alert in bed as the yellow coats fill her room. Her eyes search quickly, carefully studying the furrowed brows above each mask. She locks looks with the one in nearest view and an innocent smile breaks across her chubby face. It’s as if she realizes, oh it’s them again! I know them!
How does she not remember that “them” are the ones who stick and poke and poke again? Doesn’t she know they’re the ones who hold her down, tie her up, and squeeze until they get the last drop of liquid red to fill their morning capsule?
While they prepare for their daily draw, she entertains them with her sweet, hospitable spirit. She welcomes them to her bedside with a sheepish grin that cracks into a wide smile when they speak. Her arms batter in rhythm to wave hello and her legs keep step too, showing off her chunky thighs. But then it’s time.
The nurse pumps Annie’s arm, swabs the site, and pierces the vein. Annie shrieks and searches for me. Of course I’m there on the opposite bedside, holding her head and stroking her hair. But tears burn my eyes too and I turn my head away.
It’s over as quickly as it began. The nurse covers the fading sticky residue with a new Sesame Street strip. And Annie is already gargling and cooing again. She thanks the nurse with her vibrant smile and resumes her kicks. The courage and kindness I see in such a tiny girl amazes me.
I hope that I can be as brave as she is one of these days. To smile in the face of pain. To dry my tears quickly. To be resilient enough to pick up where I left off.
Oh, and because she’s such an inspiration, we are making heart for Annie shirts. Let me know if you’d like one. We can ship them too!