Samantha sits up when a scrub-clad nurse shuffles into her room. She checks Samantha’s vitals, glances at the wall clock and asks Samantha how she’s feeling this morning, how she slept last night.
The nurse sits by her bed for a minute, continuing the conversation they started the other day. As the nurse disappears out into the hall, Samantha imagines not the day she’ll leave the hospital but the day she’ll return, this time as a nurse instead of a patient.
It started the day she was born. Samantha was diagnosed with a life-threatening cardiac condition. Since that day, she has undergone countless surgeries and recovered from two strokes. She has spent much of her life in a hospital room. But rather than finding despair at the hospital, she discovered a path to her future.
“Ever since she was born, she has been treated by all kinds of doctors and nurses who inspired her to do whatever she wants to do,” Samantha’s mom, Mary, said.
And what she wants to do is be like them.
Samantha pulls up to the University of Washington Medical Center, her stomach a knot of nerves and excitement for her first day on the job. A cadre of fellow nurses are ready with a pair of scrubs, a stethoscope and an official badge. Welcome to the team, Samantha.
Samantha’s ultimate dream is to be a pediatric nurse and work with babies, so in Nursing 101, she gets a chance to practice her skills on an infant doll. She handles the doll with care and tenderness, earning her a graduation ceremony and title of official nurse. Samantha is one step closer to living her dream. That afternoon, as she makes her way down the hospital hall, she knows her greatest wish is in one of these many hospital beds. Waiting for her.
Her wish comes in the form of a 2-month-old infant named Scarlett – her first patient. Samantha looks down at Scarlett, the daughter of a fellow NICU nurse. She gently lifts the baby from her crib and supports her weak neck. All the other bodies and cameras in the room disappear. For Samantha, Scarlett is the only thing that exists … and she’s in her care. Samantha spends the afternoon feeding the baby, reading her vital signs and listening to her steady heartbeat.
“You’re so cute,” Samantha whispers to Scarlett as she lays her back down. “I fed you. I burped you. And I’m your nurse.”
Turning a Wish into a Future
For Samantha, holding baby Scarlett in her arms was the moment her wish came true. For her family, seeing Samantha light up was their wish come true. They could imagine her growing up and creating the life she wants to live. More importantly, Samantha could see in herself a nurse.
“The wish taught Samantha there is always hope that your dream will come true,” Mary said.
Samantha’s dream is no longer a foggy vision that comes to her when she’s confined to a hospital bed. It’s a goal, a possibility. A glimpse into the future.
Samantha was able to experience her dream career because someone referred her for a wish. You could be that someone who turns a child’s vision of the future into a reality. To learn more about medical eligibility and the wish referral process, visit wish.org.
PHOTOS: Scott Harder, Mill Creek Multimedia