An knotmove.com reader in South Florida conveyed an unforgettable story about how her friends used costumed adventures to cheer her up while she underwent a prolonged hospital stay. It all started when two of her friends, an actress and a historic reenactor, who loved any excuse to dress up and perform, donned full Victorian garb, packed wicker baskets with their concept of a British high-tea and descended on her lonely, stuffy hospital room. While never once breaking character, they treated her, her roommates and some of the hospital staff to a lovely performance and delicious treat. She says they were an hysterical cross between Mary Poppins, Monty Python and Upstairs Downstairs.
Their kindness, and the medicine that is laughter, went a long way towards helping with the tedium, pain and fear of a prolonged and terrifying hospitalization. Furthermore, it broke the ice with the intimidating, but caring, hospital staff and helped them all to see each other as “real” people and not just staff and patient. She said that after this event the staff was constantly asking when her friends would be back again.
By the way, I am told this sparked a mini-competition between her friends who looked for ways to “one-up” each other by dressing up and visiting her while she waited for, and recovered from, major surgery.
The absolute funniest (and scariest) was the night before her surgery when her boyfriend and his best friend came in dressed as doctors with hacksaws and railroad spikes and did a mock surgery. She says she felt like that poor guy from the game of Operation, and even though she was heading into a three to five hour surgery in the morning, that might, or might not, be successful, she laughed so hard and had such a good time she was actually able to sleep that night.
Today, a healthy woman, she remembers this as the highlight of an otherwise terrible time in her life. She has never forgotten the gesture, the laughter and the simple beauty of this heartfelt gift from friends who cared. There were teddy bears and flowers and balloons and she loved all the kindness and support and knew it went far to help her in her recovery, but it was the costumes and the cucumber sandwiches (and the hacksaws and railroad spikes) she remembers best all these years later.
So this month while we work diligently to support breast cancer awareness (knotmove.com is partnering with Susan G. Koman for the cure) consider just such a gesture to cheer up a friend who is suffering through harsh medical treatments and the fear of the unknown that is chemo and radiation and hair loss and pain. Pull out that Genie, Princess or Fairy Godmother costume from Halloweens past, and go grant some simple wishes just when they are needed most.