Read Online Books/Novels:
Claiming His Easter Bunny
Author/Writer of Book/Novel:
This surgeon doesn’t do relationships until she hops into my life
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“CAN YOU HEAR me in there?” Lauren asked.
She’d been the one to convince me to volunteer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Since being randomly assigned as roommates in college, we’d been best friends, and she’d just helped me work through a difficult time.
“Just a few more minutes,” she said, trying to muffle her laughter.
I couldn’t fault her. I was dressed in an oversized bunny costume and I had no one to blame but myself. After volunteering for the past three weekends, I was appalled to learn the hospital had no plans for an Easter celebration.
Almost two decades had passed since I spent my sixth birthday in a hospital room, watching my parents try to pretend it wasn’t as bad as I knew it was. No other children in my class had to miss half of the school year for checkups, hospitalizations, tests and appointments, but there I was, in the place that had become like a second home.
Severe childhood asthma had riddled my early years with more misery than any child should witness, let alone endure. From tests to surgeries, there was always a good reason for me to stay overnight for observation.
Strangely, I don’t remember the sadness hospitals are known for as much as the joy that still warms my heart thinking of the regular celebrations and performances organized by the staff of volunteers. They seemed to make up holidays, always giving the children a reason to celebrate.
It was an opportunity to get out of your dull hospital room, parade through the eggshell-painted hallways, and forget about your diagnosis or upcoming treatments. We would laugh and dance like regular healthy children, even if only for a few hours.
When I joined Lauren’s support group for the children, she told me she wanted me to help them better serve the patients, and making a big deal out of every holiday was the best way to do that.
I can’t say I would have been as adamant about the need for a giant bunny costume to be rented if I had known I’d be the one wearing it.
“Ingrid? Are you okay in there?” Lauren shouted this time, the humor quickly draining from her face.
“I’m fine!” I yelled back, hearing my voice strain to make its way through the coarse netting around the mouth of the costume.
Lauren, nodded, always the worrier, before leading me into the conference room. We’d spent three hours transforming the stuffy room into a pastel-colored festival. The kids had already had their faces painted, created cute greeting cards and snapped photos by the time I waddled in, waving my arms from side to side beneath the costume.
The slightest movement was exhausting in the heavy and hot fur. Glancing around the room, I tried to focus on the laughter and smiles of the children to keep myself from passing out.
“Can I make a wish?” A voice squealed from the right. Glancing down, I noticed little Emily – she was the sweetest patient, one of my favorites. Her latest round of chemotherapy had taken most of her blonde hair, but she still lit up the room with her smile.
“What can I do for you?” I knelt, taking her small hand in the oversized paws covering my own.
“I want my hair to grow back as fast as possible,” her blue eyes staring so fiercely I feared she could see me through the costume.
“Oh, that’s no problem at all. But I have to tell you, you are so beautiful just as you are,” I assured her, watching the dimples appear in each of her rosy cheeks.
“You think so?” She squirmed bashfully.
“Oh, I know so,” I wrapped her into a hug before awkwardly hopping over to the next child. The room was alive with excitement, and my hop seemed to excite everyone even further as loud bouts of laughter rang out like a chorus.
Forgetting about the heaviness of the costume, I smiled as I spoke with the children, even though they could not see my face, allowing their contagious giggles to fuel me. The parents, doctors, nurses and fellow volunteers stood along the edges of the room, watching in delight.
I remembered my own parents and the great lengths they would go to just to bring a smile to my face during my own childhood sickness. It felt more than rewarding to know that I was returning the favor, even if only in a small way.
Lauren had prepared small gifts unique to every child’s needs, and she led me around the room to deliver each one as I listened to their wishes, which ranged from a new book to a cure for a sickness they couldn’t even properly pronounce.
By the time I finished circulating the room, I was grateful for the shield of the mascot costume, because it hid the tears that rolled down my cheeks. Knowing I couldn’t deliver on the more serious requests was heartbreaking.