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A letter to frog boy from your nurse

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My dearest Frog Boy,

I vividly remember our first day of camp, seeing your shaggy hair and brilliant smile as you greeted me with a hug when you found out I was your counselor. Although we weren’t allowed to play favorites, you quickly stole a spot in my heart as my favorite camper due to your infectious and witty personality. By day three, I believe about a third of the frog population at camp was stuffed into your “frog habitat”- a two-liter bottle with grass and water. Although some deemed it an inhumane living environment for the frogs, I couldn’t help but defend you when you feverishly searched for ants to feed them and grinned from ear to ear when you met your quota of 75 frogs in a bottle. I’m sorry I got mad at you the night you left the top off in the cabin and woke up to a quota that had dwindled to a mere 24. I’m not sure I ever told you how much of a support you were to the other homesick campers, or how sweet you were when you lifted your shirt to show other little boys your scar when you heard they were embarrassed about theirs, or how much I appreciated you protecting me from the crazed teenage boys during water wars. You were more than deserving of the “Outdoorsman Award” and the picture of you kissing the catfish you caught still hangs on my fridge.

I vividly remember this past December when I got word of a certain eight year-old that was being admitted to my hospital with heart failure, and I more vividly remember the sinking feeling I had when I realized it was you. Throughout the two months you waited at the hospital on the heart transplant list, you touched the lives of everyone you encountered and left an imprint of yourself on my heart. I used to tell your dad that I wasn’t allowed to have a favorite patient. But since you were already my favorite camper, all rules were negated and you immediately became my favorite patient, one that I looked forward to seeing every single day. I will never forget the day you learned that you could ride on your IV pole, or how you used to eat soap in the shower because you said it was just the same as brushing your teeth, or how you would refuse to eat all day until I brought you peel-and-eat shrimp from home, or how you wanted to be tucked in at night with a warm blanket and I was the only one allowed to kiss you on the forehead because I was your “bestest girlfriend.” There is no child more deserving of the Bravest kid on CSU trophy you received at your hospital birthday celebration and with each February that passes I will think of how you made sure all of your nurses had a piece of cake before you got one for yourself.

Selfishly, I want another chance to give you a ride on your IV pole down to the gift shop. I want another chance to play Xbox with you even though I had no idea what I was doing. I want another chance to make “the coolest colors in the world” with you by mixing play-doh together, and I want to google the longest word, largest fish, tallest man like you always wanted me to do. I want another chance to plan our escape-route together by looking out the window and estimating how high we would have to jump to reach that tree in the garden. You were the most charismatic, charming, precious, unselfish, caring, loving child I have ever encountered- and you were wise beyond your years.

I’m sorry I never told you that I loved you, but I hope you felt it. Although I vowed to never get this attached to a patient again, I thank you for making me realize that I’d rather love a patient like you and lose you than never love at all. I thank you for being you. Hope you are running as fast as you can without your IV pole and “pink” line to worry about, catching lots of frogs, and learning to spell the longest word in heaven my sweet, sweet boy.

Your “Ma-cole”

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Nicole Lehr

Nicole Lehr is a pediatric nurse. She can be described in three adjectives: content, thankful and fortunate. All credit for the aforementioned description can be given to the love she has for her profession as an RN. She graduated from University of Florida with her Bachelor’s in Nursing and moved to Atlanta to work at the Cardiac Stepdown Unit at Children’s — her dream job.
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