Light flooded throughout the hospital as I entered, making my eyes sting and burn. The previous sleepless night made my eyes even more sensitive to the light. I wandered back to the long conversation I had with my mother last night. She kept reminding me to cherish my life and to be grateful for what I had, but those words never made sense to me. As I snapped back to reality, the satisfying, yet nauseating smell of saline bags, antiseptics, and blood filled the air. I walked across the cream white tile, my shoes smacking along as I walked. I looked up and saw the office receptionist smile at me from behind her large computer screen. I tried to act positive, but the thought of spending the whole day in the hospital, volunteering, made me depressed. I could have been doing the enormous pile of homework that was sitting on my desk, untouched. I could have been cleaning my disgusting room, which was in a heap of a mess. I could place the exact location of the strewn clothes and the hangars that were thrown lazily across the bed. I could see the plate of half eaten pancakes and the sticky maple syrup that was sitting at the edge of the desk. I quickly snapped out of my depressing thoughts, as the receptionist handed me my badge and told me that I was to work at the front desk only. I nodded in approval, but my mind sunk as I looked around at the lethargic scene of people. I dropped my bag on the floor, and made my way to the desk, as I tried to get ready for the eight hour long shift that was required of me.
People rushed in and out of the hospital throughout the day, holding steaming cups of coffee and hot chocolate. I shivered as I looked at the temperature on the thermostat, wishing that I had brought one of those hot drinks or at least my Under Armour jacket. Throughout the day, I had delivered flowers to various patients rooms, so it was no surprise when the florist appeared for the third time that day and smiled at me. “Flowers for room 828,” she said in a uplifting voice. I nodded, and filled out the chart with my illegible handwriting. As I made my way up to the eighth floor, I inhaled the beautiful scent of the bright red roses. The creaking elevator came to a banging stop as it dinged in signal, almost as if it were throwing me out. I made my way around the twisting floor, hopping over the black lines on the tile, something which I always found fascinating. I quickly scanned over the paintings and quotes that hung upon the wall, as I looked down and noticed that my hands were sticky and wet. The base of the flower pot had a hole in it, and the water was slowly dripping out from under it. I picked up my pace, and soon found room 828 at the end of the hallway.
After knocking twice, I cracked the door open. A feeling of anxiety overcame me, as I continued to knock and crept closer to the patient’s bed. The Dallas News was on the TV, and as I crept around the corner of the wall that separated the bathrooms and the bed, my anxiety grew. I didn’t know if it was the fear of being yelled at for invading the patient's privacy, or if it was something else. As I tiptoed my way around the patient’s bed, hand still sticky from the flower water, I was taken aback. There, on the bed, lay a fraile, young woman who was on a ventilator with tubes attached to both arms. The air smelled like a mixture of salt and blood, and a pungent smell of death filled the air. I tried to peel my eyes away but the blood seeping under the bandages distracted me. Bile filled up in my throat as I tried not to vomit, and tears filled my eyes. With the stinging and blurry vision, I set the flowers down on the small brown nightstand beside the bed. My mind raced with thoughts as my brain told me to leave but my body stood still. After a few moments pause, I looked around and noticed the white board that was beside the silent TV. Although the doctors handwriting was sloppy, I could still make out the words that were sprawled across it. It read, “25 year old female; critical motorcycle accident.” I stood there like a skeleton until I heard footsteps behind me, and whirled around hitting my knee on the side of the table. A man had walked in, tears in his eyes, as he noticed his wife on the hospital bed. With a small nod of approval, he thanked me for bringing the flowers, and I made my way out of the room and into the dusty elevator. For the first time, I let the tears roll down my face. In between hiccups, thoughts rushed into my head. I realized that my problems were minute when compared with what others were dealing with. I wondered how I could have been so selfish and ungrateful to have been wrapped up in my own world. Life was so unpredictable and I began to see the pain and suffering millions of people around the world faced every single day. In that very moment, I realized that people were suffering more than I was, and as I sobbed quietly in the elevator, I thanked God for the beautiful and safe life that I had been blessed with. As these thoughts rushed into my head, I remembered my mother’s words, “Cherish your life; millions of people want the one you have.”