One of the many difficult aspects of starting at Chai Lifeline Midwest during the pandemic was restrictions during visits. For months, I’ve been meeting parents in the lobby. Once I was allowed to go up to the food court to spend some time with a parent.
That can be a nice break, but I thought to myself that nothing could compare to being able to visit a family in the room and spend quality time with them. That thought was validated when I was finally able to get permission and visit our families in their rooms again!
Before I visit a family (or really before any endeavor), I pray that G-d will give me the right words and abilities to be there in a revealed good, supportive and kind way.
I walked into the room and Mom and son were hanging out. I handed Mom a delicious-smelling and fresh lunch which is always so greatly appreciated. Then I noticed that her son was playing video games on the Nintendo Switch.
My prayers were answered.
Leveling up in life
In the past, video games were a pretty serious hobby of mine. I even worked at a video game store in high school and early college. Because of that, I am impressively good at games. I don’t get many opportunities to use this “talent” in a constructive way, but here I knew something cosmic was at play.
I asked if he would like a partner in his game and he perked up. We played and shortly after starting he said, “Wow, you’re really good.” I shared some tips and tricks with him so he could impress his brothers.
While I was there, the nurse came to check on his pain level.
He said, “While I’m playing I don’t feel any pain.” This seemed to surprise the nurse which led me to believe this has not been the standard response.
As we played, I sent Mom to go grab a coffee and have some much-needed alone time outside of the confines of the small room (though they were blessed with an amazing view of Lake Michigan on a beautiful sunny day.)
I thought to myself, “I can’t believe this is my job! Getting to sit and play video games.” The only difference between this and my past life as a video game player is that here I was bringing light and joy to a little boy who really needed it. We also happened to have a blast playing.
If I didn’t have another obligation I would have stayed there all day. We said goodbye and I challenged him to get to a certain level by my next visit. When I got back to the office, I saw a text from Mom with a picture captioned: “I don’t think you know how far this went – Thank you!”
Walking away, I felt so incredibly grateful that I was able to comfort a family in such a fun yet meaningful way. And that I was finally able to put my video game talent to good use!
It really is true that when you set out to give, you receive much more in return. I know that my visit cheered him up, but it brought me immeasurable joy, too. While illness is certainly not fun and games, sometimes games can serve as the best medicine.