The Crooked Smile
As we rolled five-year-old Mary into the MRI room, I
tried to imagine what she must be feeling. She had suffered
a stroke that left half of her body paralyzed, had been
hospitalized for treatment of a brain tumor, and had
recently lost her father, her mother and her home. We all
wondered how Mary would react.
She went into the MRI machine without the slightest
protest, and we began the exam. At that time, each imaging
sequence required the patient to remain perfectly still for
about five minutes. This would have been difficult for
anyone - and certainly for a five-year-old who had suffered
so much. We were taking an image of her head, so any
movement of her face, including talking, would result in
About two minutes into the first sequence, we noticed
on the video monitor that Mary's mouth was moving. We even
heard a muted voice over the intercom. We halted the exam
and gently reminded Mary not to talk. She was smiling and
promised not to talk.
We reset the machine and started over. Once again we
saw her facial movement and heard her voice faintly. What
she was saying wasn't clear. Everyone was becoming a little
impatient, with a busy schedule that had been put on hold to
perform an emergency MRI on Mary.
We went back in and slid Mary out of the machine. Once
again, she looked at us with her crooked smile and wasn't
upset in the least. The technologist, perhaps a bit
gruffly, said, "Mary, you were talking again, and that
causes blurry pictures."
Mary's smile remained as she replied, "I wasn't
talking. I was singing. You said no talking." We looked
at each other, feeling a little silly.
"What were you singing?" someone asked.
"Jesus Loves Me," came the barely perceptible reply.
"I always sing `Jesus Loves Me' when I'm happy."
Everyone in the room was speechless. "Happy? How
could this little girl be happy?" The technologist and I
had to leave the room for a moment to regain our composure
as tears began to fall.
Many times since that day, when feeling stresses,
unhappy or dissatisfied with some part of my life, I have
thought of Mary and felt both humbled and inspired. Her
example made me see that happiness is a marvelous gift -
free to anyone willing to accept it.
[ By James C. Brown, M.D. -- © Copyright 1998 by Jack Canfield and Mark Vctor Hansen ]
All Rights Reserved.