Pointers for Visiting Hospitalized Children

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1) Make sure you call ahead and confirm that it is okay to visit on that date and time. You may even call a couple of hours before to make sure things have not changed with the hospital schedule. Also, understand that your visit may be interrupted by a doctor, nurse or procedure that needs to take place.

2) Be fully present during your visit, giving your attention and energy to the patient. We recommend that you take care of all your personal needs prior to the visit. For example, you should not use the patient’s restroom and you may want to make any phone calls prior to the visit so you can give all of yourself to the patient and his or her family.

3) Leave heavy bags and valuables in your car or at home as space is at a premium in hospital rooms and large items can get in the way and be a tripping hazard.

4) Don’t wear heavy perfume or cologne. Many patients are allergic and have lower resistance to odors and smells, even nice ones!

5) Wash or disinfect your hands at the hospital scrub station before you go into the room and also after leaving the room.

6) If you are bringing your child who is friends with the patient, anticipate that the initial hello may be awkward for both children, which is totally normal. You might want to have a conversation with your child prior to the visit to address any concerns or questions that they might have. You may first want to ask the child what their answers are to questions such as “Why do you think he’s in the hospital” or “How do you think he got sick”. In this way, you can provide accurate information and clear up any misconceptions they may have.

7) Bring a gift for the patient. It can be a card, book, magazine, stickers, poster or a memento that a child would like to keep in their room. It does not have to be expensive, just something to remind them that you care. Take note that some hospitals may not allow balloons, flowers or plants. If you are bringing food, make sure to ask about dietary restrictions and other hospital rules. Many children are on restricted diets (no candy or solid food).

8) Try to keep it upbeat. Patients and their families really appreciate and enjoy the distraction from illness, hospital routines and procedures.  You can also talk about the gift you brought or comment on something they have in the room (such as a teddy bear, poster, game, or photo), or discuss something that happened in the community.

9) Sometimes just being there is enough. Do not panic if there are times when you are not talking.  Do not feel that you have to over-compensate by talking every minute to fill in the silence.

10) Take your cues from the patient and do not overstay your welcome or tire the patient out. Parents frequently cannot leave their child’s room, even for short periods of time. Don’t be insulted if the parent cannot walk you to the elevator or spend time in the lounge talking with you.

11) Understand that the child may be drowsy from medication and their illness. The child may also feel self conscious — imagine how you’d feel if someone came to visit you and you were wearing your pajamas and had not taken a shower or washed your hair in a couple of days. Please do not personalize any lack of enthusiasm. There is a reason they are in the hospital (they are really ill or recovering from a procedure) and what you are seeing is the result of the illness and not a reflection on you.

12) Be supportive of parents (or caregivers). Often parents can’t leave the hospital room because the child might be afraid to stay alone. If you know the parents has a favorite food, offer to bring them a lunch or dinner. Hospital food can be expensive and gets boring after awhile. It would also be helpful to offer to stay with the child while parents take care of important errands, or even leave the patient’s room for a short time to make a personal phone call or take a walk.

Tom Lynch

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I guess I always wanted to be an artist. For as long as I can remember, I liked to draw all kinds of things; pirate ships (with hundreds of little pirates on them), comic strip characters from the newspaper, and Godzilla (he was my absolute FAVORITE thing to draw. When I got a little older, I liked to make up my own superhero characters.

My Mom and Dad always encouraged me. They would get me supplies and books all the time and take me for painting lessons. As I began to grow up, they helped me set up my first studio in my basement. I thought is was so great to have a professional artist desk and equipment. My Mom and Dad did all that and more for me.

As much as I loved artwork, I did not go to art school after I graduated from high school. Instead, I did all kinds of crazy jobs. I was a waiter in a restaurant, a truck driver (I delivered auto parts!) and a bartender. Years later I regretted that I never pursued a future in art. So one year, instead of buying a new car, I took all  the money I had and enrolled in art school. (And it took all the money I had too!). But it was worth it. Throughout the years I had some pretty crazy art jobs too. But I was able to learn about how to design things and how computers work.

I have been working as an artist and designer for about 18 years now. But you never stop learning. Even now that I am an adult, with children of my own, I still have an art teacher. He’s a great teacher and has over fifty years of experience in art.

Every project and job I do is something new. My art teacher has taught me not to be afraid to try anything to create artwork. It could be a piece of wood, a computer, paint, a piece of scrap metal…whatever. That’s what makes my job so much fun. It’s always different and, most times, it’s a lot of fun.

I own a design company with my best friend. It is my job now. And you need to work very hard. But it’s a lot easier to work hard at a job you love. I am very lucky, for that. That’s why I always encourage young people who want to be artists.  Many people will tell you that it’s too hard to be an artist, it’s too competitive, you may not be good enough.  What a bunch of baloney!

Every job is competitive and most people work hard at any job they do. And anyone who says you’re not good, enough does not know what they are talking about. Honest.  Art is one of the only professions where you can invent your own work. Do things in different ways. And communicate to people in your special way.

It’s not easy… I would never tell anyone that. But it is worth it. Many people work very hard at jobs they can’t stand doing. I know, I’ve done it. Why put aside your dream to do that? Over the years I have had many people who have supported and encouraged me. And I could not do a thing without the love and support of my wife, my little boy and my twin girls. It’s important to have the people you love in your corner. I wanted to be anartist since I was a little boy, today I am. And I owe it all to my Mom and Dad.

Fables from Aesop

Click here to watch animated Fables from Aesop.



I made all the artwork for my Fables from Aesop book out of fabric. I was inspired by some wonderful artwork done a long time ago in Africa. It was tribal flags sewn by villagers. Every flag had a different design and they told the history of each village through pictures. I thought they were great, and a perfect way to tell a story. I had a bunch of drawings that I had done when I read a book of Aesop’s fables.

So I thought instead of doing painting from them, I would try sewing them the way I had seen in the tapestries from Africa. Now, I had never sewn anything before, so when I first started out I had a lot of problems! I poked my finger with needles about a hundred times and sewed the wrong ends of the fabric together…I was all thumbs. But eventually I got the hang of it and learned how to use all of my sewing tools. After a while I was able to do fabric versions of all my drawings. It really became a lot of fun.

The moral to one of the stories that I chose to illustrate is: Slow and steady wins the race, it really is true because this kind of artwork takes a loooong time! I had to learn to be patient and take my time. It took months for me to finish all the stories for my book. But it was worth the effort.

After I had made enough artwork to finish my book, I thought it would be fun to make some of the stories into little animated cartoons that I could put on my website. So I took photographs of my artwork, scanned them into the computer, and designed these little animations. I plan on doing all the stories from my book this way.

Fables from Aesop was a really great project to do. I learned a lot about how to sew and make things (I made little toys of my Aesop characters too). And now children can see my animated stories all over the world on my website… and here on Soaringwords! I really hope you like these Aesop stories, both online and in my book.

Now its your turn to create and illustrate a fable. Just click here to get started.

Randi Klein

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  Randi is in constant motion – taking photos of interesting things, leading spin classes, going to hip hop concerts, and sharing her warmth with everyone.  Here are six images from her recent photo adventures. We’ve come up with a fun caption for each photo. Now you are invited to: 1.  Invent your own name or caption for each photo 2. Take a photo inspired by these photos 3. Make a drawing inspired by these photos 4.  Write a short story about the photo you like best






Click on each image to enlarge

Caterpillar playdate

Skateboard King

Petal Power

Double Vision

Hula Hoop Explosion

Does someone have a tissue?

  After You Finish Your Project: You can give your photo or artwork to someone who is ill. Or, you can mail or email it to Soaringwords and we will share your gift with a hospitalized child and post it on our website. Soaringwords 1 Penn Plaza, 9th Floor New York, N.Y. 10119  heal@soaringwords.org

Soaringwords Calendar

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April 18, Friday, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm – Lisa Buksbaum, CEO & Founder, will be speaking about the power of positive interventions in the “real world” a the +LAB in Michigan Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. April 23, Wednesday –Franklin Park Elementary School students and Johnson & Johnson volunteers will be creating SoaringPuppets to donate to patients at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. April 24, Thursday – National Take Your Child to Work Day. On this special day, Soaringwords is honored to bring community service projects to employees and their children with following corporate partners: Horizon Media, Chubb, Cisco and Schlesinger Associates. May 17, Saturday, 3:00 pm – 5:30 pm – Soaringwords + Zumba® Fitness are bringing the healing power of dance, movement, laughter and community to pediatric patients, families and hospital staff. Join us for a Zumba® Fitness Fundraiser to support Soaringwords.  Location: Sirovich Center, 331 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003. Purchase tickets, $20 in Advance and $25 at the door: http://soaringwords.brownpapertickets.com May 17 , Saturday – Lisa Buksbaum, CEO & Founder, will be the keynote at the Jewish Center bikur cholim event, the transformative power of visiting the sick.  Location: The Jewish Center, 131 West 86th Street, RSVP today 212-724-2700 May 5, Monday – New York Life Celebrates 15 years of community service. Employees are invited to decorate SoaringQuilts and SoaringPillows to share with bereaved families and hospitalized children.

Church Groups and Sunday Schools

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Help us bring more love to hospitalized children and their families. Soaringwords mission is to lessen the negative impact of serious illness by connecting ill children and their families to a community of compassionate and caring volunteers who inspire them to “Never give up!” Soaringwords embraces these children and their families by providing fun, creative and educational activities both in person and online that cultivate joy, hope, laughter and healing. Soaringwords community service program have been shared with over 250,000 people in schools, churches, community centers and corporations nationwide.

Please take a moment to watch Soaringwords: The Power to Heal video to experience the energy and excitement of our initiatives in action. Our most popular activity is decoration of SoaringQuilts® and SoaringPillows®, which have been delivered to thousands of ill children around the country. Decorated with inspirational messages and artwork, these quilts and pillows help brighten up a child’s hospital room and provide comfort to children who are receiving treatment at home. Decorating quilts and pillows is a fun and an easy activity. There is no sewing involved. All you need are fabric markers to transform your quilts and pillows into personalized, colorful and caring gifts. Soaringwords will help you coordination donation of SoaringQuilts and Pillows to your local hospital.

Click here to purchase quilts and pillows to decorate. Once you receive your SoaringQuilts and Pillows you can friend-raise. We suggest asking your friends, classmate, neighbors for a $5 donation to decorate a patch on the quilt or pillow. The more you raise the more you can give! Other Soaringwords activities include SoaringSuperheroes® and SoaringHaikus®.

Soaringwords activities can be incorporated into: -Holiday celebrations -Community Service Volunteer initiatives -First Holy Communion and other rite of passage celebrations -Teen programs, youth groups, senior programs -Sisterhood/Women’s programming.

To bring Soaringwords to your school, church or community center, call 646.674.7105 or email us at heal@soaringwords.org. To see  many more photos from Soaringwords Educational Outreach events, click here.



Testimonials from Hospital Professionals and Families of Ill Children: 

The SoaringQuilts and SoaringPillows serve as a life line connecting healthy kids to hospitalized children in a personal and meaningful way.  All of the Soaringwords activities — such as creating SoaringFables, SoaringMessages and SoaringGardens – motivate hospitalized and healthy children to create innovative and unique opportunities to connect with other hospitalized patients. –Elizabeth Gombar, Media Relations Specialist, Children’s Medical Center in Dallas

We are extremely excited to be working with such a tremendous program. We believe this new partnership will be extremely helpful for the children cared for at Wishard as well as for the children of the Indianapolis Public School system, many of whom are also our patients. –Dr. Philip Merk, Chief of Pediatrics, Wishard Health Services, and Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine, Indiana School of Medicine, Wishard Health Services

On behalf of the little ones at Texas Children’s Hospital, thank you for the wonderful handmade SoaringQuilts and SoaringPillows that were made especially for our patients. They were a wonderful example of love at work. You can see that the backbone of Soaringwords is using positive phrases to inspire the ill children and their families. It was such a pleasure to see all of our volunteers busily visiting with our children and their families. As Soaringwords recognized when a child is ill, his or her entire family is in crisis. Having a soft snugly blanket helps to make the hospital feel a little more like home and also make the families very happy. In addition, a message is sent to the parents. That message is that people care about their children and are willing to take the time to make their stay in the hospital brighter. Thank you for thinking of our patients.Individuals like you enable us to fulfill our vision: to provide the finest possible pediatric patient care, education and research to all the children who come to us for help. Your interest, encouragement and support are vital to Texas Children’s Hospital and to the ambitious goals we have established. Thank you again for your thoughtfulness. –Pat Dolan, Director, Texas Children’s Hospital

On behalf of the doctors and nurses in the Pediatric Emergency Service at The Children’s Hospital of New York Presbyterian—Weill Cornell Medical Center, I would like to extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to Soaringwords for visiting our unit, and for reading to the children and spending time with them. We also appreciate your beautiful and talented SoaringMurals and art-work filled with warm colors and a bright theme. Caring for a sick or injured child is always a challenge, but being able to share a bit of happiness, and to see the faces of the children light up when they receive attention and care is the greatest gift of all. We wish you and your family the very best. I look forward to working together on similar projects in the future. –Shari L. Platt, MD, Director, Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Children’s Hospital of New York Presbyterian, Weill Cornell Medical Center

The SoaringQuilts and SoaringPillows serve as a life line connecting healthy kids to hospitalized children in a personal and meaningful way. These beautiful red and white patchworks quilts and pillows transform a cold and sterile hospital bed into a cozy and warm place for ill kids. –Michelle Brauntuch, President of the Child Life Council of Greater New York and the Child Life specialist at Englewood Hospital

We would like to thank you and the wonderful children who came to visit the patients yesterday. The quilts and pillows were thoughtful and the patients loved them. I know the children are grateful for you taking the time to put together an event like this. The children who decorated them should be proud of their work. Thank you again. –Rechelle Bonaparte and Jennifer Ricca, Child Life Specialists, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center

My name is Deniese Alejandro and am the auntie of 5 day old UCSF cardio ICU patient Shaun Sasser.  I was asked to contact you by his parents Ericka Sasser and David Rios.  They truly appreciate the quilt that was donated to Shaun this week.  Ericka called me crying trying to express how thoughtful this was and wondered how she could tell your organization thank you from the bottom of their hearts!  I told her I would look you up and I found you.  So thank you again and we all look forward to learning more about your organization. –Deniese Alejandro, Ericka Sasser, David Rios and Shaun Sasser

Hello.  My daughter is 13 and is at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in NYC.  Today is her third day here and she really wants to go home.  Then, a lady appeared with this beautifully soft quilt asking if my daughter wanted one.  She loves it and said “I feel so loved.”  She really loves the drawings and how soft the material is…  So do I. I want to thank you very much for helping my daughter make it through this ordeal.  She is being diagnosed with epilepsy while here and we have a long row to hoe, as they say. She will always have this quilt to remember something good coming from here! –Best wishes, Louise

Testimonials from Educators and Youth Leaders:

This project is a dream come true for the staff and students of the Indianapolis Public Schools. One of the most important aspects of educating our future leaders is the importance of civic responsibility. The Soaringwords projects will definitely support our effort to take our desire to educate the whole child to a higher level. We want to sincerely thank Eli Lilly and Company for providing such a worthwhile experience for our children. –Dr. Li-Yen Johnson, IPS Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education

Today, our staff and students were exposed to a plethora of compassion, joy and pain. We were blessed by the knowledge that hope and laughter are possible in the face of despair. It is clear that Soaringwords has a far-reaching impact upon its recipients. Just as immeasurable is the way our hearts have felt the joy that only comes from giving a gift from the soul. –Thank you, Rosa Blanch, Principal at P.S. 152

On behalf of the students and staff of the Stuyvesant High School site of the Manhattan Occupational Training Center/ P721M, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to Soaringwords. During your visit each student was given the opportunity to create page for the Soaringwords website. Students were told that their work would be used to cheer children and their families who are coping with long term illness. It was really exciting for each student to receive a Soaringwords Certificate of Appreciation and have their photo taken with their artwork and messages and the awards. Since our students have developed disabilities and multiple physical challenges, your participation with them on that day provided these young adults with a rare opportunity to be the source of inspiration rather than the recipients. All of us look forward to seeing some of their work on your website and I know that they will be proud to know that they helped make other children feel better. We thank you for sharing your wonderful program with our school. We hope that you continue to stay in contact with our students. –Neil Coffina, Program Coordinator, Manhattan Occupational Training Center/ P721M

I learned that when you help sick children feel better, you get this happy emotion that never leaves you. –Narabs A, Age 10, Hudson County Boys and Girls Club

Becoming a SoaringAuthor made me feel kind of the same way Martin Luther King Jr. must have felt when he made all that change in the world. I hope that our fable will make the ill kids in the hospital feel stronger and give them tons of self-esteem. –Alieyah, Age 11, Indianapolis Public School

Soaringwords rocks. When I was 3 years old I had a heart transplant and had to live in the hospital for a long time. Now that I am in High School, I feel proud helping other kids feel hopeful. I like making SoaringMurals and other cool things to give to kids in the hospitals. It makes me feel like I can actually help another person. –Sean, Age 14 , Soaringwords Youth Leader

Museum of Art and Design

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Watch this video to see artists and kids transform ordinary objects into works of art. You can do this, too!!!


In this video from the Museum of Arts and Design’s exhibit, Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary, you will see how artists used ordinary objects – plastic spoons, disposable chop sticks, labels from the inside of clothing, and vinyl records – and transformed them into works of art. A group of students got a chance to see this exhibit and then were inspired to create their own artwork to donate to hospitalized children. You, too, can become a SoaringArtist and make something special and unique to decorate a hospital room.

Here’s How to Get Started:

1. Think of an everyday object that you can use for your sculpture. Look around – these could include: paper cups, empty egg cartons, empty paper towel roll, yarn or thread, plastic spoons, paper clips, empty cereal boxes, paper bags, cotton balls, or paper plates.

2. See what art supplies there are in the hospital playroom, your school or house. Use brightly colored tissue paper or construction paper, glue, yarn or string.

3. Think of the concept or idea to transform your everyday objects into a masterpiece. For example, you can make your plastic spoons into a sculpture or your paper clips into a mobile.

After You Finish Your SoaringArtwork: You can put it in your hospital room or give to a hospitalized child to brighten up their room. Please email us a photo so we can post it on our website!

Here are the photos from Museum of Art and Design and the visit to Lincoln Hospital:

Magic Foxglove in Our Forest

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Janine Kaczynski A couple of years ago, my husband and five-year-old son and I had relocated and leased a house. My son was starting school in September and the owner was supposed to come over to re-sign the lease. Instead, he sent a van to put a “For Sale” sign up in the front lawn. Then he sued us to get out of the house in five days. We were in shock. When we came home it was very quiet and all of us were very worried and sad. Suddenly the phone rang. It was the Heritage Society asking if we were interested in moving into a historical home which was located inside of an old bow and arrow factory on 350 acres of land! They would only charge us half the former rent because they were so grateful for the work I had done on the old destroyed nature preserve. We were falling and an angel caught us. When we pulled up in front of the new house in the bow and arrow factory there was a huge stained glass angel blowing a trumpet in the window. All of this because I had planted and restored a destroyed nature preserve in my town. Those two greenhouses full of nasturtium, 350 feet of biologs and 35 trees that I had planted really meant something very special. Plants and gardening have special healing properties. Each month SoaringGardens will introduce new activities that focus on nature, healing, art projects and mythology. Wishing you lots of fun and a green thumb.

Magic Foxgloves in our Forest

Some plants have magical and mythical qualities. This month we share the story of the Foxglove to make you smile! In our forest, my foxglove grows from the dawn of spring to sleepy fall. They are the plant of the heart. The medicine, digitalis, that is produced by foxglove is not the medicine that we need to make our hearts unbroken, it is their fairytale quality that makes our hearts sing. Our white foxglove is pure and broken only by the deep purple flecks inside its long flowers. They yellow and purples stand so tall and inviting that the bees are known to come here for best sleepover parties before August, when the sunflowers bloom. Those who find the forest and venture through ask their name and tell you they have never seen anything so majestic in their lives. Legend has it that foxes put the long tubular flowers on their paws to make them invisible to fairies. Then they become invisible, catch them and eat them up. Little do the foxes know, I alerted the faires to the foxes’ naughtly little tricks. After all, without fairies it would be a terrible and dreary world. That is why foxglove are made poisonous to all of the animals of the forest who eat them. The mightiest deer dare not touch them as their whole world will turn blue as soon as they do. If they see all blue, they cannot tell if they are standing right side up or upside down and their horns get stuck in the mud! The word has spread well in the forest. Nobody has come to harm them yet. Not even Mr. Rotten who lives in the hole, deep in the forest. That is why you and I still enjoy the mystical foxglove along with the deer, barkin fox, and the ostrich from around the corner who owns the man with the big Australian hat. When you come to see them, your heart will also be renewed for there is no flower that stands as tall, has as much flower to hide the hummingbird, and has the best invisible armor available anywhere else. Please don’t tell the hollyhocks that I told you that. They would get jealous and droop.

Fun Activities to Do: Draw a picture from this story. Perhaps you want to show the hummingbirds hiding in the foxgloves or the magic fairies flying above them. What are your favorite plants? Can you draw them? Can you write a story about your favorite plants? Is your story funny? Sad? Make beleive or not?

The Boy Who Blessed the Rabbi

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Lisa Honig Buksbaum is the CEO & Founder of Soaringwords






Many people remember it as the day it rained sideways, but I’ll always remember it as the day my son blessed a Rabbi. This is a true story about a boy named Jonathan. He is a great kid who loves to play soccer, basketball, and chess. He also loves to tackle his little brother, Joshua. He has so much energy that his family often jokes that when he sleeps at night they recharge his battery pack. As the days started getting warmer in the spring, one week Jonathan started dropping things. First it was a fork, or a book, then he started slurring his words or kicking his brother under the table but promised it was an accident. He also complained of a sore throat and headaches. His dad thought he was watching too much TV, and his mom thought that his ever-persistent negotiations to go to sleep later were the cause of the headaches. A visit to the doctor revealed that they were both wrong and that Jonathan had rheumatic fever. Suddenly things got really bad very quickly. Jonathan had no energy to sit up or stay awake for long periods of time. It was hard for him to speak clearly, to hold a cup by himself, or to walk from his bed or the couch to the washroom without the help of a grown-up. At first he said he was happy to miss school! His parents, babysitter and grandma took turns sitting by his side for 24 hours a day. Instead of running to school, playing with friends, or doing is favorite sports, he was spending all of his time sleeping or going to different doctors and specialists. Joshua was upset because he missed playing with his older brother. He also missed spending time with his parents who were pretty busy taking care of Jonathan all of the time. Jonathan missed school, especially recess and math, lunchtime and the bus ride. But most of all, he missed his friends. One day, his dad got a phone call from a friend saying that she had made an appointment with a very special Rabbi who was coming to New York City all the way from France. Earlier that same day, a neighbor had come to his mother’s office and offered to make an appointment with a special Rabbi who was visiting from far away.  That evening at dinner, both of Jonathan’s parents were excited to tell each other about the special Rabbi who was coming to town. They thought it was beshert* that two people had made a point to get an appointment for Jonathan. A few days later, in the middle of a pouring rainstorm, Jonathan’s grandmother drove her car right up to the front door of the apartment building. Jonathan’s mom and dad ushered him into the back seat and drove him through the park for the appointment with the Rabbi. They came to a quiet tree-lined street and got out in front of a beautiful townhouse. Inside there was a big flight of steps and a long hallway filled with many people waiting to go inside. Jonathan was the only child. He noticed that everyone looked very serious and a little sad. People were whispering in hushed tones. When it came to be their turn, a man opened the door and ushered Jonathan and his parents inside. He had a twinkle in his eyes and a kind face. After the Rabbi finished giving Jonathan a Hebrew blessing and a piece of paper with a written blessing on it, Jonathan sat back down in between his parents. The Rabbi looked at all three visitors and asked if there was anything else. Jonathan and his mother quickly exchanged glances at each other and Jonathan nodded. Understanding exactly what he meant without actually saying a word to each other, she began. “Yes Rabbi. There is one more thing. Last night when Jonathan was going to sleep we were talking about our visit today- what to expect and what it would be like. I told him that hundreds of people came from all over the world to meet with you and get a blessing. He asked me who blesses the Rabbi? I told him that God blesses you. He said that he didn’t think it was right for you to bless him without him giving you a blessing in return. He said his prayer and went to sleep. Now he would like to give you a blessing.” The Rabbi’s eyes opened a little wider and his entire countenance glowed as he gently motioned for Jonathan to come closer. Jonathan stood up and placed his hand right in the middle of the Rabbi’s hat as both of them lowered their heads and closed their eyes. When Jonathan finished his blessing, the Rabbi embraced him and the visit was over. Later that night, when Jonathan’s mother tucked him under the covers she asked him if he felt good about the visit. He nodded his head and said, “It makes me feel good to have a blessing and know that people care about me.” His mother held him closely to her heart and told him how much she loved him. “What did you say in your blessing?” Jonathan looked up with his big blue eyes and said “I’m sorry mommy I can’t tell you my blessing. It’s between me and God.” She kissed him tenderly and he went to sleep. Today Jonathan enjoys good health and helping other children feel better about their illness through Soaringwords. Every day is a blessing. Sometimes we are just too busy to appreciate it. *meant to be

A Dolphin’s Idyll

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Lisa Honig Buksbaum Lisa is convinced she was a dolphin or fish in a prior life, which is probably why she loves to swim so much and hang out near the ocean and any kind of water.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Six weeks after dad burst out of the hospital, he was ready to reclaim his life- roller blading, working, going out with friends, and volunteering. A “clean bill of health check-up” was scheduled for later January. The X-rays revealed some lung spots, which needed to be biopsied. The same week, my husband and children and I were scheduled to take a much-needed rest in Miami. It was our first holiday since my brother’s death and Dad’s hospitalization. There was no productive role to fulfill in New York, waiting for Dad’s biopsy results, so I went on vacation with anticipation and trepidation. As I took off my watch to go for my morning shelling expedition along the ocean, I noted that Dad’s procedure would begin in fifteen minutes. As soon as we crossed over the boardwalk, the children threw off their shoes and ran to the shore. Suddenly Jacob shouted out, “look, it’s a whale!” Twenty feet from shore, a dolphin jumps out of the water, dives in, and repeats the shimmering arch several more times. Mesmerized, we are all transfixed by the dance that is unfolding literally in front of us. Right out of central casting, a woman walks by, looks at the dolphin, and turns to us and says, “I’ve lived here 23 years and have never seen a dolphin…” just in case we missed the enormity of the miracle. Convinced that I was a fish in a prior life, I am always amazed at the allure that water holds over me. Each morning on vacation I’d tiptoe out of the apartment so as not to disturb Jacob and the sleeping bambinos and my mother-in-law. There is something so exquisite and personal about enjoying the morning quiet surrounded by nature. After spotting our dolphin, I needed some time to be alone. Jacob took the kids to the pool. As I walked along the shore searching for shells and heart-shaped rocks, I sang different chants to coincide with the breaking of the waves. These wordless melodies from the depths of my soul were musical prayers. Two hours later, I’d return with my catch-shells, rocks, driftwood to a bustling house of Sesame Street, cereal bowls, and fresh-brewed coffee. Since this was the morning of Dad’s lung biopsy, I was grateful for a long walk. Despite the father-daughter repartee and gallows humor, everyone appreciated the seriousness of the diagnosis and the risks from the actual procedure. Once Cheerio bowls were put away and PJ’s exchanged for bathing suits, I was able to cajole the family back to the beach. You see, my brother Gary had moved to Florida in 1986. He adored a year-round warm weather climate and delighted in calling me in New York whenever he saw winter storms on the Weather Channel: “How’s the weather, Li?” Being back in Florida brought back a flood of memories from the past 12 years- driving his white Miata convertible with my two-year-old son in tow, dinners at South Beach checking out the scene and watching him talk on his cell phone to friends a few tables away and, the most recent visit to Florida when me and my parents cleaned out his home and went through his possessions after he died. He came up north for Thanksgiving and Passover and my parents visited Gary two or three times each year in Florida. On one of their last visits, he surprised Mom and took her swimming with the dolphins for her sixtieth birthday present. On this tense morning, one exuberant dolphin connected all of us and gave us hope to believe that everyone would be all right. And it was. Three weeks later, Dad received a clean bill of health and has been cancer-free over a decade.

A Butterfly’s Kiss

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Lisa Honig Buksbaum


Lisa loves butterflies, fireflies and other winged creatures that don’t make a lot of noise but make their presence known. This story is dedicated to her brother, Gary Honig’s sacred memory.

   It was one of those quintessential experiences that make living in New York spectacular. The Museum of Natural History, a few blocks away from my home, was advertising The Butterfly Exhibit. I was ecstatic, imagining walking amidst several hundred butterflies in the middle of February. Shortly after my brother died, my parents had attended a few Compassionate Friends Meetings (support groups for parents whose children have died), I learned that the butterfly is actually a metaphor for life and death because it is the logo of the Compassionate Friend’s organization. The caterpillar is life, the cocoon is death, and the butterfly represents the soaring of the spirit. So, of course, I was enthusiastic to go hang out with the butterflies in search of inspiration and a winged miracle to make me smile. My husband Jacob and our sons Jonathan and Joshua, and I arrived at nine a.m., when the Museum opened. As we walked past the 63ft. Barosaurus dinosaur in the grand lobby, we were ushered off to wait in a line for the exhibit. The brochure talked about the 14 varieties fo butterflies, but I was intrigued by the blue ones. Gary’s eyes were blue. As a child, his favorite colors were blue and yellow. He sang a little song- “Blue and Yellow my favorite colors. Blue and Yellow my favorite colors,” a ditty that became a staple in the banter that grown siblings use to mercilessly taunt each other. Naturally, the blue butterflies, not the orange, yellow, black, brown, or green ones, riveted my imagination. One hour later, we entered an antechamber that led to the exhibit. Steaming hot air and water vapors blasted us. The temperature was 92 degrees to prevent the butterflies from freezing. There were several thousand butterflies and a few hundred people jammed in a 40 feet lush habitat. Butterflies were alighting on children’s fingers and shoulders. Parents were trying to catch a butterfly and carefully transfer it to the fingers of mesmerized children. As we took this all in, I was elated and deeply pained at the same time. Tears welled in my eyes. All of a sudden, a rather large blue butterfly careened into my cheek. It was so startling that several people actually started pointing at me and laughing out loud. In the midst of the chaos, my heart was still. I got the message in a butterfly’s kiss.