Snow Angels

This story was an entry in last year's 2009 Cancer Care Northwest short story contest. It's a sweet story but you may want to avoid if you are dealing with cancer. It was written by Dr. Grosen, a gynecologic oncologist at CCNW.  

Snow Angels
- Dr. Grosen

It was late one evening, just before Christmas, when a woman stopped by my university office and asked if she could visit with me. The sky was already dark, because of the short winter days, and the lights were shining outside in the parking lot. My office was warm with the glow of a lamp on my desk, and I had thoughts of Christmas in my head.

I invited her in, and she introduced herself as the daughter of one of my patients who had recently died from ovarian cancer. She was understandably tearful, because her mother was a beautiful woman who was very strong until the end. The memory of this particular ovarian cancer patient has faded with time, and has become mixed with the memories of so many of my patients who have died of ovarian cancer. I cannot even remember her mother’s name. But I do remember the story that the daughter told, and I still remember the impact the story had on me.

I invited her in and we reminisced about her mother and how her mother left a lasting impact on the lives of so many people, especially her family. She expressed her thanks for the care that our staff had given her mother. But she also came to tell me a story about her mother, a story that she felt I needed to know.

She explained how it had been about two weeks since her mother had died, and she and her family were sitting in the living room visiting. They were mourning the loss of this special woman, feeling quite empty without her presence. Her young daughter, who happened to be the favorite granddaughter of her mother, was sitting at the window with a big smile on her face. There was snow falling outside, and it would seem that perhaps she was just happy to watch the beautiful white flakes as they fell from the sky and accumulated in the drifts of snow that are so common in Wisconsin winters. However, the granddaughter became more excited and started waving at someone outside the window. Curious, the daughter went over to the window to see who the granddaughter was waving at. She looked outside and saw only the white snow, with the light that snow brings to a cold winter night. She turned to the little girl and asked who she had been waving at, because clearly there was no one outside. Her young daughter looked at her with the same bright smile and explained that she was waving to “grandma.” At first, the daughter thought perhaps her young daughter was fantasizing, and explained to her that she couldn’t have possibly seen grandma, because grandma had died and was now in heaven. But the young girl insisted, stating that grandma was an angel in the snow, and she had come to speak to the granddaughter. The little girl explained that grandma wanted her to know that she would be with them, and especially to tell the little girl’s mother to not be sad.

In the end, the daughter believed that indeed her mother had appeared to her daughter as an angel, and she felt peaceful in the knowledge that her mother was watching over them.

Ever since this story, when I know that one of my patients is dying, I ask them to please be an angel for me and for everyone. As the snow falls this winter, I cannot help but think of the “snow angel” seen by this young child many years ago, and how real angels are. When I look out the window on a snowy winter night, I am sure that I see the many angels who are my patients watching over me and it brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart. 

originally posted on Facebook

No comments:

Post a Comment