From Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul

An Armful of Love

Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.

Sir James Barrie

Sally was devastated when she learned that she and Josh would never have children.

Since Josh had a well-paying job, Sally didn’t have to work, but the days dragged on. The fun of tennis, swimming lessons and afternoon movies wore thin after a while. She drifted away from her friends; they were all having babies and caught up in motherhood.

Finally, Sally decided to spend her time helping others. Just as long as she didn’t have to be near babies. It was too painful a reminder.

In her desire to be very busy, Sally chose to volunteer in a local hospital. She tried working all the different floors, but finally asked to be assigned to the emergency room. It was always busy: Time passed quickly, and Sally believed that was where she was needed most.

When she finally got up the nerve to tell Josh, he was furious. “You’ll expose yourself to all sorts of danger,” he said.

“But I want to be occupied with something other than playing all day,” she said.

“So volunteer for a reading program or making meals or something. Something safe,” he added.

“I don’t want to be just safe. I want to be interesting and useful, too.”

He finally gave in. But when Sally came home each night, morose and tired, he tried again. “Do something else,” he pleaded.

But she refused to give up.

One day, as Sally was scurrying down the hall to tell one of the doctors, who hadn’t answered his page, that his wife was on the phone, the ambulance pulled up. This in itself was nothing new. However, this time one of the paramedics wheeled around frantically, his eyes searching the crowded noisy room. He spotted Sally and thrust a tiny bundle into her arms. “Hold her and don’t move,” he said as he ran after the gurney his partner was maneuvering into a waiting cubicle.

Sally stared down at the tiny infant in her arms. Just then the doctor, whose wife was on the phone, walked past. Sally told him of the call and explained how she came to be holding the child.

“I’m sure the paramedics checked her out or they wouldn’t have handed her to you, but let’s just make certain,” he said. He then took her from Sally who followed him into an empty room where he examined the little girl. “She’s fine,” he said with a smile and handed her back.

Sally followed him from the room, but before she could protest, the paramedic, who had given the child to her, walked over. “I don’t work here as a nurse, I’m just a volunteer,” she said.

“I know, I’ve seen you here before. Please take care of the baby until it frees up a bit in here and someone can take over. They’re aware you have the infant.”

“But . . . ,” she said. With a wave of his hand, he turned and was gone.

The baby started to cry. Rocking her gently until she fell asleep, Sally realized how wonderful it felt to have a baby fall asleep in your arms. This was one of the things she was missing by shutting herself off from her friends’ and relatives’ children.

A few minutes later, one of the nurses came and took the child. “Her mom and dad were in a car accident. They’ll be fine. Thanks for taking such good care of her,” she said.

But it was Sally who was thankful. This tiny baby opened Sally’s eyes like nothing else had. For the first time in ages, she went home to Josh happy and full of plans.

She made his day when she told him she’d discovered a new place to help out.

“Good, you’ve left the hospital,” he said.

“Nope,” Sally answered with a smile. “I just found a different area to volunteer. They need someone to hold and love the abandoned babies. I start tomorrow.”

Josh smiled.

Elaine L. Galit

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