BRADLEY

I press the button. It talks.

Bradley has no reaction.

I press the button again.

And again.

Once more.

And again.

Bradley points his finger at the door and says “Go. Just go.”

I am stunned. He says it like a 30 year old man might say to his wife after they’ve had a fight and he has nothing left to offer.

But Bradley is 3 years old, sitting on his hospital bed denying his talking stuffed animal. Denying me.

I’m 22 and my ego is offended. I mean, I am good with kids. I love kids with all my heart! Kids are drawn to me because I like them. Even my dolls got fed real applesauce with our kitchen spoons when I was little because I cared that much. This is why I am a volunteer at the hospital. Not because I need the hours or because it will advance my career. I’m here for the kids. And yet. This one is done with me.

The first things I noticed about Bradley were his huge eyes and round blond head. After that, I noticed his sippy cup was filled with chocolate milk. When I saw this I wondered how the nurses were ok with this until one of them leaned over and whispered in my ear.  

"He can have as much as he wants, because he’s not going home."

He’s 3 years old and he’s never going home.

I put the talking stuffed animal down and look Bradley in the eyes.

"Do you know how much your parents love you?"

And then I break just one little hospital rule when I ask him:

"Do you know how much God loves you?"

"Yes," he says.

And then he scoots closer to me.

The thing is, souls can be 2 or 22 or 92.

Kids are not just little minds and bodies that need to be entertained. Kids are souls looking for connection like the rest of us.

When we feel anxious, alone, afraid, unworthy or worried, that thing in our hand? That phone, that computer, that gucci purse, that degree, that trophy, that title, that toy, that accomplishment, they can’t do what we need them to do. Those things are really great. Really really great. But what our soul needs to make the anxiety fade and the feeling of being alone fade and the fear fade and unworthiness fade and the worry fade is connection to another soul.  Eyes looking into eyes saying not just I see you and hear you but I am here WITH you. You are loved not just by me but by something greater than me.

It’s been over 20 years since you passed away but I still think of you little soul. You remind me that if the thing I hold in my hand is in the way of the things that really matter, I need to put it down and scoot closer.  To love. To God. To my kids. To my husband. To real life.

xo forever in my heart.