A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

The Waiting Room
by Harriet Morgan (2004)

        Many details of that day are fuzzy in my memory, but the lesson I learned stands out as clearly today as it did then, over twenty-six years ago.

        It was probably March or April of 1978.  I base this on the fact that spring usually comes early in Texas, and we weren't having to hassle with coats. I'm sure I would have remembered that!  Leah, my baby and the reason we were sitting in the pediatrician's waiting room, was still young enough to be in my arms, having been born in October.  (She hadn't yet reached that rambunctious stage after she began to walk and then run.)  Leah, Lana her older sister, and I were there for some type of well-baby checkup or shots.

        Even under the best of circumstances, I'm not very patient when waiting for appointments - sort of an "impatient patient."  The room was full of other mothers and young children.  We were all struggling to keep our little ones quietly entertained.  When the outer door opened and yet another mother entered with her son, I'm sure we all collectively groaned to ourselves.  At first, there was some shifting of seats to accommodate this latest arrival.        Then, as I and the other parents actually saw the little boy in the stroller, most of us looked quickly away.  Each, no doubt, saying, as I did, a silent prayer of thanksgiving for her own healthy children.  This particular little boy appeared to be around three or four years old, much too tall under normal circumstances to be in a stroller.  He was extremely thin and weak looking.  His frail body was continuously moving in spasms, and his head rolled from side to side.  Even his facial expressions seemed to be completely involuntary.

        There was an extremely uncomfortable feeling in the room as everyone tried not to stare at this little handicapped child.  Possibly it was the crowded room and the noise of the other children, but the boy seemed to become more and more agitated.  His jerking and twitching became excessively pronounced.  He was making unintelligible sounds that made it even more difficult for everyone to ignore.

        About this time my own two-year-old began to notice the little boy in the stroller.  She stood up from where she had been playing quietly, and before I realized where she was going, she walked over to him.  I was horrified.  What would she do?  Would this be a traumatic experience for my child?

        Then Lana put her hand on the little boy's arm, patted him softly, and said, "Sh, sh.  It's okay.  Sh, sh."  He seemed to recognize the love and concern she had for him and was immediately calmed.

        I'm not sure about anyone else's reaction, because I ducked my head in an attempt to hide the tears in my own eyes.  It seemed that a big sigh of relief permeated that room.  When I looked up the little boy's mother had a smile on her face that seemed to be saying, "Thank you!"  That day I thanked my Heavenly Father for a sweet little girl who showed compassion for one whose needs were great.

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