84: A Thousand Cranes of Hope

84: A Thousand Cranes of Hope

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

A Thousand Cranes of Hope

Cranes carry this heavy mystical baggage. They’re icons of fidelity and happiness. The Vietnamese believe cranes cart our souls up to heaven on their wings.

~Mitchell Burgess

A visit to the hospital is rarely a pleasant one. Its distinctive smell of disinfectant is never welcoming to the senses. Its white walls with the occasional splash of colour — seemingly an attempt to lift the spirits of the crestfallen souls that enter — is never encouraging enough.

As I made my way to the ward, I took a deep breath and practised a smile. After all, nobody needed another miserable face in the room.

As I entered the ward, I overheard my relatives making plans for a funeral. My grandfather had been in a coma for almost a week, with a discouraging diagnosis from the doctor. “It’s only wise to make plans now,” my uncle said.

I wondered. Was this really the end for him?

My grandfather was a distant figure in the family. A man of very few words, his stern demeanour made him seem unapproachable.

However, I saw him in a different light. Raised at my grandparents’ place since young, I forged a very close relationship with them. While my grandmother played the role of bad cop, my grandfather and I were partners in crime. He would sneak me downstairs for ice cream when Grandmother was in the bathroom, while I secretly added more sugar in his morning drink because he had a sweet tooth that Grandmother disapproved of.

But as I grew older and moved back in with my parents, Grandfather returned to being the quiet and lonely man everyone else saw.

I wanted to awaken this quiet man. I did not believe it was his time to go.

I had an idea. I had read about paper cranes and wishes coming true. For every one thousand folded origami cranes, we get a wish granted by the gods. Absurd as it sounds to the adults, I managed to convince my sisters and cousin to carry out this sacred plan. My family believed in Buddhism, while my cousin’s family believed in Christianity. We therefore believed that with combined powers, any wish would come true. We had to act fast so that before death could claim him, God would save him.

In between classes, I was folding origami cranes. Before bedtime, I placed them all in a jar. Watching the jar fill up day by day was akin to filling up the hope in our hearts. Every origami crane was accompanied by a little prayer that my grandfather would open his eyes to see the world again.

The last few cranes were completed at the hospital. We left the jars of origami cranes by his bed and said a final prayer. This was it. Would God save him?

A week later, he was still in a deep sleep. That night, I bawled my eyes out lamenting the gods for not granting our wish. The one thousand origami cranes had not delivered our wish to the gods. We only had one wish — was that too much to ask for?

Just when all hope seemed lost, a call from my aunt one afternoon changed everything. She wanted us to come to the hospital immediately — my grandfather was awake.

A visit to the hospital is rarely a pleasant one. However, this time, I was greeted by the scent of flowers that visitors brought, and thank-you cards from discharged patients pinned on the staff notice board. I stepped into my grandfather’s ward and saw him holding our jar of origami cranes. This man of few words looked up at me and said, “My good girl, thank you.”

~Pebbles H.

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