I could still count the hours since the birth of my newborn baby when the phone rang. It was our pediatrician. A call directly from the doctor is never good news, “You need to go to the children’s hospital immediately; they are expecting you.” I held my baby girl in my arms, terrified at what was to come.
What followed was a rush to get to the hospital and about 48 hours of treatment for high bilirubin levels. Ours was an extreme case of common newborn jaundice, which left untreated can cause cerebral palsy or other forms of brain damage. Despite an encouraging outcome, my postpartum hormones could hardly handle the blow of being away from my family and rare moments holding and comforting my baby during those two days.
Our stay at the children’s hospital was just that—a stay meant for children receiving treatment, not for emotional parents. I sat by my daughter’s side those two days in a room with no windows and no ability to step out for fresh air or sunshine. Sleep was erratic and tears were constant.
When I felt I had reached my limit, our nurse walked in the door with a blanket for our little girl. Since all the baby-size blankets were out, she was given a large blanket adorned with flowers and butterflies. The bright pink, yellow and green colors seemed to light up the dark room and it was the perfect addition to the starchy hospital linens on the bed near baby’s treatment center.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama
Local churches and organizations like Project Linus donate warm blankets to hospital patients whose diagnoses, I was well aware, are often far more damaging and life changing. Still, I grasped that pink fuzzy blanket with a newness of hope. What was meant as comfort for an ill child lifted the spirits of this worn-out mom. That blanket was exactly the light I needed to see on those dark days. My daughter, now a kindergartener, knows the story of her special blanket and how it comforted me during a sad, hard time.
Every time I look at that blanket I think of the hands that made it. The hands that never knew who would receive it. The hands that lovingly took time to give to someone they’ve never met. I look at our blanket and feel a deep sense of gratitude for those who give of themselves to help someone else.
Being happy isn’t about having a smile on your face or oozing optimism wherever you go. It’s knowing there will be both moments when we need a warm, colorful blanket and moments when we can offer a blanket to someone in need. It is in those almost typical moments of giving and receiving where we can find lasting happiness and true joy.
Are you looking for happiness? Find it by giving in everyday moments: give a smile, share a hello, stop to help, listen, be patient, give of your time. Give giving a try and share your happy moments with us.