I’m sitting at a coffee shop across the street from one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals. I should be writing a book right now. But I’m distracted. I’m in awe.
Because of superheroes, that’s why.
A woman just walked in, wearing a bright blue jacket and matching pants, with reflective striping on the side. The patch on her sleeve said “children’s emergency transportation.” It might as well have said “Justice League.”
Another woman just came in; a doctor, I gathered, from the conversation she had with a colleague about a girl brought in last night. They didn’t know what was wrong. The doctor was heading back to keep working. She looked so tired.
Somebody just came in and bought all of the cake pops. For one of the kids to give to some of the other kids, she told the barista.
There’s a girl in an oversized coat and a knit hat. She’s probably about 13 or 14. I just struck up a quick conversation. She has appointments all day long. Her mom has to work, so the hospital has assigned someone to be with her today.
I’m at the window. Almost all of the people passing by have nametags hanging on lanyards. They’re doctors, nurses, techs, orderlies. They’re all part of this everyday fight for kids.
I remember Fred Rogers once saying that when he was a boy and he would see scary things in the news, his mother would tell him “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
I still follow Mr. Rogers’ advice when bad things happen. When there are attacks. When there are disasters. When there are terrible accidents. I look for the helpers and I know that the bad things don’t define us.
But lately, God, you know, it’s felt like the whole world is a bad thing happening. I wonder what’s happened to my country. I don’t recognize it. It feels sad. It feels scary.
We don’t have to wait for acutely bad things to happen to look for the helpers, and to be comforted when we find them. That doesn’t change the bad things, but it gives me hope.
There are superheroes all around us. And THEY define us.