The Word of God

My Little Ballerina

young ballerina on stage

His resume looked like a spreadsheet for at least ten different people who had lived at least three full lives. He had come across it as he was preparing to pack from his last job before the strange new world of retirement. He laughed quietly to himself realizing that he had been employed by everything from dog walking to telemarketing, from teaching to counseling, from cleaning to writing. The day had finally come where he could hopefully rest from a long career of a smorgasbord of life works and activity, which produced at least another lifetime of memories.

Just when he came to the last box of papers and discarded letters, he realized that he had not opened this particular movable crate of remembrance ever since he packed it forty years ago. That was when he worked for a medical delivery company, transporting everything from specimens to records all over the area in a three-hundred-mile radius and visiting as many as twenty-five different hospitals and medical facilities. This was the moment he found them. Neatly wrapped in that light tissue paper that people often put inside those big gift bags as a splash of color temporarily hiding the surprise gift for the recipient, there they were: a pair of soft pink silk ballet shoes that appeared never to have been worn or even presented to anyone. He drew a deep breath and quickly realized that his eyes began to moisten with a warm but sad memory that he placed away for safe keeping. In his hands, he softly held those two pristine fit pointe shoes (as they are known within ballet circles) while bending over quickly to retrieve the invoice and receipt probably undisturbed since the day he first opened the small delivery box in which they had arrived.

This particular memory had taken several months to begin, develop, and conclude while he was delivering medical items to a children’s hospital in San Antonio, Texas. He loved going there and speaking with the nurses on the different floors, most of whom knew him by name and vice-versa. Holidays were especially memorable for him because he never forgot to provide seasonal cards, post cards, candy, and maybe even a potted plant for the front desks. That was perhaps why they always asked for him by name for deliveries and why his company was always to assign him, for one, to keep their clients happy, and second, to help ease the disappointment and frustration when a particular shipment was late or even worse, lost.

This touching story, all these forty years later, began at the beginning of November during one of the worst rainstorms in the area. Freeways and overpasses were dangerously drenched while police cars and ambulances were heard and spotted every mile or so. Of course, that meant that he was equally drenched from head to toe. Gratefully, he had several spare changes of clothes in the mobile delivery van, and on this memorable day, he ran into the hospital, and after a quick dry-and-change maneuver, he was back on the floors checking in with his anxiously awaiting customers.

That’s when he met her. It was perhaps one of the most strangely curious and yet darling memories that would always be accessible throughout his years. She was a little girl about seven years old, with the brightest smile, the most delicate of expressions, and clearly a cancer patient. He found himself in the front admitting room of the oncology wing patiently waiting for someone to come and certify his delivery and sign the invoice. What he noticed was more than curious. This little girl wore a bright petty-coat kind of dress that looked like she was about to start square-dancing, deterred perhaps by the IV-drip suspended high above her head hanging by a silver pole on wheels which she pushed as if it were her own private tricycle or elaborate wagon. She was as bald as a bowling ball with a cute red ribbon apparently scotch-taped to her head to complete the ensemble. She was going from patient to patient asking their name, occupation, and reason for being there as if she worked there or was part of the welcoming committee of the hospital.

When she finally arrived at our delivery man, she was taken back by his uniform, name tag, and stack of unusually marked boxes which comprised his delivery for that day and floor.

“What are you?” she asked rather brusquely.

“I’m from FedEx, little girl, and I am here bearing gifts!” came his quick and smile-laden response.

“Oh, hello, Mr. FedEx,” came the retort. “Welcome to my hospital.”

The next few minutes or so began the most endearing of passing friendships that would warm anyone’s heart. The next questions were all about their homes and families, their favorite things to do, and of course, about why this little precious soul was even here at the hospital.

“Well, Mr. FedEx, you see that bag hanging there? That’s for me. They say that I have “lookeemia,” or something like that. But look! I figured out a little dance I can perform for you right here even though I got this ‘bag-pole’ stuck to me.”

And with that innocent and inviting introduction, she proceeded to provide a jig and some rather fancy foot work while humming some melody which escaped the scope of the delivery man’s repertoire.

“That’s pretty good little girl! By the way, what’s your name?” asked Mr. FedEx.

“My name is Sally. I am happy to meet you, but I think it’s time for my nap. I will see you later, I hope real soon, OK?”

Even though it was 9:30 in the morning and perhaps an odd hour for napping, our delivery man continued his way forward with his deliveries and collection of signatures before braving the elements outside once again and praying that he could make it back home in one piece.

One month passed and it was time for yet another delivery to that same oncology wing. He was secretly hoping he would see Sally again, and although at his first visit to the floor, he did not see her, he did return to the waiting room and waited for as long as he could. Sure enough, after about twenty minutes, there she entered the area, different dress, different shoes, but same smile and scotch-taped bow on her shiny little head.

“Hey, Mr. FedEx! I am happy to see you again!” she blurted out, approaching him slowly.

“And I am happy to see you, too, Sally. Tell me, what have you been up to?” came the quick reply.

The two continued their conversation as if they had known each other forever. She went on to tell him what new treatments they were going to try with her, while he spoke to her of the ever-expanding routes they were planning to assign to him, maybe as far away as Austin and Dallas, and that he hoped that he would still be on the same schedule to bring him by the hospitals in the San Antonio area.

“That would be really nice, Mr. FedEx. I hope you keep coming,” reassured Sally.

“Me, too, Sally, me too. Hey, before I forget, next month is Christmas and I’ll bet you’ve got a long wish ready to share, don’t you,” continued her new friend.

“Yes, I do. What I would really like to do for Christmas is dance, a special dance that I create and perform here for families who come to see my friends here. And of course, I’d like to dance for my family. But I’ve got this ‘bag-pole’ with my medicine, but with the right shoes, anything is possible, right?,” she said with a smile that filled the room with the love and dreams of a dying girl with undying hope.

It was at that moment that our Mr. FedEx knew exactly what he was going to do. He was going to go to one of those ballet studios and purchase a small pair of tall pointe shoes and wrap them exactly right for Sally for Christmas. He was so excited and knew that it would make her face light up like all the Christmas trees he could imagine. Immediately he found the place, purchased the gift, and placed it in safe keeping inside his delivery van hoping that he would see that familiar address of the hospital on his list of stops.

The Christmas rush that year was merciless, however. There were new delivery locations everywhere and,  although the San Antonio children’s hospital was always on the list, there was a slew of new drivers that had to be hired on to fill the demanding order for Christmas fare all over Central Texas. The young delivery man seemed to have gone everywhere else except that children’s hospital in San Antonio, but he never went anywhere without his special package tucked safely away in one of the storage compartments of his van.

Christmas, New Year’s, and January all came and went and the rush for packages seemed to have abated substantially. One dark and cloudy morning, at around 6:00, he received his list of deliveries for the next three days. He brandished a great big smile when he read that the children’s hospital was on the list. He could not wait.  And the rainstorm would not wait either. The weather was as dark and torrential as the day he first met his little ballerina. However, nothing was going to stop him from this last delivery of the week.

It was a little before three o’clock in the afternoon when he arrived at the hospital and yet it seemed as if it was much later. He brought the dolly that carried about five or six heavy boxes of everything from small oxygen tanks to latex gloves and finally made his way to the oncology wing. Surprisingly, it was empty. He thought the visiting hours were either over, or there was just a lull in the flow of families coming to see their young ones. He was also taken back with how quiet it all was. As he looked up at the large clock on the wall, he began to hear the soft but determined raindrops hitting the windows facing the city below. He was also determined to make this last delivery, and after a full hour that seemed like a day, he rang for the on-duty nurses. Two incredibly young and serious-looking women dressed in bright blue scrubs came to the desk.

“May I help you, sir?” one of them asked.

“I’m looking for Sally. Could you please tell her that Mr. FedEx, her friend is here to see her?”

The two nurses glanced at each other with a strange expression that was a mix of distress and awkwardness. One of them went to the file cabinet while the other was about to reach for the phone but not before our delivery man assertively intervened:

“Which one of you is going to tell me?”

The older nurse who had tried to deflect what she was sure to be a most difficult and yet common conversation, spoke up:

“Well, sir, you know this is a hospital and the kids here are very sick.”

The young man impatiently interrupted with, “Where is Sally?”

She continued, “Sally died Christmas Eve shortly before midnight. I am sorry. We all miss her very much.”

He would later say that he felt as if all the air in that room became so thin and he felt as if he was going to faint or something. He walked out slowly, package in hand, into a well-known and frequented mercado-like plaza outside the hospital and just started walking. He was grateful that it was pouring down so that the rain and his tears comingled and very few, if any, noticed.

That was forty years ago and today, as he was getting all his papers and documents in order, he found those ballet shoes again. Sally would have been about forty-six or seven today and he often wondered what kind of life she would have led had she had the chance. However, that was not where he was going with this memory. He believed strongly that everyone had been placed upon this earth, and even more specifically, in each of our paths to achieve something worthy and noble that makes, or rather, should make a difference. Sally had done that for him, and he prayed that during these past four decades, he had done the same for others.

Have you?

Share your thoughts (20 thoughts)

20 thoughts on “My Little Ballerina”

  • Deborah says:

    What a beautiful story ! It touched my heart.
    We will never know how some people will impact our lives. Thank you for impacting my life with your beautiful stories! God bless you! You are truly blessed with the Holy Spirit!

    • Caro says:

      Thank you, Deborah! May we all have a peaceful, restorative, and meaningful summer!

      “Could anything be better than this? Waking up every day knowing that lots of people are smiling because you chose to impact lives, making the world a better place.”
      Anyaele Sam Chiyson

  • kristen says:

    This story is all-too familiar, as my husband works for FedEx and regularly speaks about the people he has met throughout his tenure there. He had stories of this grumpy man who always gave him at pat on the shoulder when he delivered on time, and about an extremely apologetic woman who’s tiny yorkie would bark and growl at him every time the woman opened the door. He always had a story that could make my side split with laughter! But one day, he came home somber and troubled and I knew something must’ve happened.

    In the middle of all the families, people, and plenty dogs he met along his routes, he never mentioned this one rundown shack off the county road. He said he’d delivered to that house many times before, and it always felt empty, cold, and lonely. No one ever came to the door so he’d leave the box on the porch. It was this particular day, however, that he noticed something he hadn’t before: the entire lawn was barren and unkempt except for one patch under a large oak tree. As he walked by, he could make out three grave markers. The garden around the tree was blooming with beautiful flowers and the area was neatly bordered with large, smooth stones. He was able to make out the dates and could see a woman and two young girls were buried there.

    He began to get choked up when he told me that part of the story. He knew a man must have lived there because of the recipient’s name and that he was probably sick because he was being delivered medicine, as medications are delivered in special packaging. We sat there in silence after a while, he got up to take a shower, and we hadn’t spoke of it again.

    The next week, he said he had purchased flowers and a rosary. He delivered to the house again and left the flowers and rosary with the package. I asked if the man ever came out but he did not.

    Two weeks had passed and the routine was the same: arrive, scan the package, knock, leave the package, depart… still no man. About a month later, my husband noticed a piece of notebook paper with a note poorly written in a fading ink. The note said: “Dear driver, thank you for the flowers and the rosary. I pray with it every night. I won’t be here after this week, I am very sick and moving in with my sister. Thank you for your kindness. God bless.”

    He hid his tears as he read the note to me and carefully placed it in his wallet. It wasn’t who he met that left an impression on this encounter; but who he never did that made an impact. He (we) never saw this man, but felt like we knew him all the same.

    People come into your life in all different forms and ways. And each encounter that makes a deep and loving impact on your soul, carries the heart of God through and through.

    We wish this man well and eternal peace.

    • Caro says:

      Welcome back, Kristen! This level of brilliance has only been matched by the height of your generous spirit over your most recent and moving response to our latest post, “My Little Ballerina.” While I trust many of our readers will benefit from this sharing, my hope is that many more will be able to relate the same things by being encouraged and motivated to living lives of meaning and kindness driven by the desire for clarity. Recently I came across a semi-disturbing definition of adulthood that shook me to the core. Basically the person wrote that full maturity is reached by leading boring lives, rehashing the past while slowly succumbing to the steady flow of alcohol. Grant it, I truly love moments of clarity especially with loved ones, but commemorating meaningless minutes of existence is clearly not a step forward. Thank you so very much for your thoughts. I was completely strengthened and buoyed by your amazing words. While I pray for all of our readers, benefactors, contributors, and Bible recipients, I will from this day forward also pray for our “FedEx brother” who experienced an unexpected visit not only from a kind delivery man, but also presence of a loving, caring Jesus. God bless you always, Kristen. Read you next time!

      “With nothing meaningful in life, nothing is interesting. Enter boredom. A bored man even longs for longing. He has time to fill, but there is nothing compelling to do.” ― Daniel Klein

      “We create a meaningful life by what we accept as true and by what we create in the pursuit of truth, love, beauty, and adoration of nature.” ― Kilroy J. Oldster

      “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” — Jesus Christ

  • Caro says:

    “Never underestimate the valuable and important difference you make in every life you touch for the impact you make today has a powerful rippling effect on every tomorrow.” Leon Brown

  • Anonymous says:

    Beautiful story.

    • Caro says:

      Thank you for reading. “Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader, they set out to make a difference. it’s never about the role, always about the goal.”

  • Tony Montez says:

    This is an amazing story that, once again, renews my faith. In high school I had a class assignment to visit patients in the hospital or nursing home. I chose the children’s hospital. A classmate joined me for this assignment. We met a 16 year old patient named Linda. She was very pretty and spoke with surprising ease. She told us that she liked singing. I told her that I play a little guitar and maybe I could bring my guitar for our next visit. She really liked that idea. A couple weeks went by and my classmate wasn’t able to visit the hospital with me. It felt awkward to me to go to the hospital with my guitar. But I did and Linda saying a couple of contemporary songs of the day. We had a very enjoyable visit. More time went by and I got more involved with school functions. When I was finally able to return to the hospital a nurse prepared before visiting Linda that her leg had been amputated. When I returned the following week a nurse at the front desk told me Linda had died. I remember the shock of hearing the news. I thought how crazy it is for me to leave the hospital and go to school and baseball practice. Linda’s parents had thanked me for visiting at one point. That was over 40 years ago and I’m still left in wonderment how our lives intersected for a brief, yet deep friendship. Thank you for this beautiful story.

    • Caro says:

      Wow! That was amazing, Tony! Isn’t it truly amazing how God works? I am very thankful that you appreciate our latest offering and even more joyful that you would share your experience with our readers. God bless you always and enjoy a truly restful summer.

      “To make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful, or perfect. You just have to care enough and be there.”

  • Ron says:

    Of all the gifts we receive throughout our lifetime, none could be more precious than time – quality time. Time is a currency that can’t be stored away and we don’t have an endless supply. Like money, we choose how we’re going to spend it and that’s where its true value is determined. Bitterness and regret or gratitude and joy can all be purchased with time. These are investments whose return determines how you’ll reflect on your final moments on earth. Make every moment count and make a difference in the lives of everyone you love. Thanks again for another thought-provoking story that, once again, helps to put things in perspective by realizing the most important things are how we spend our money but how we spend our time. God bless!

    • Caro says:

      I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment, Ron, and while I thank you again for your comments, time –as you pointed out — is indeed a currency that can not be saved or stored– just used to the best ability we can muster. When you really think about it, we spend each and every waking moment preparing for that very last one and although that might be frightening to some, it is truly liberating. Have an great week ahead and a wonderful, restorative summer.

  • Dan says:

    He created us to spread love and his work , have you ? I love this ending . .

    • Caro says:

      That’s great, Dan. Thank you for your comments.

      Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it’s inspiring.

  • Julie Trevino says:

    I sure hope I have!….have made a difference in someone’s life! I strongly believe that when God made us, He made us with specific blue prints. Each one of us with a certain purpose in life.
    Little Sally, even though she knew she was dying, still went around the hospital bringing a little cheer to someone’s day. She sure made a great impact on Mr. FedEx’s life. He couldn’t wait to come back to the hospital just hoping to see her. She was a little sunshine in his life.
    Jesus made a great impact on lives of many people. He sure has made a great impact on my life. I hope and pray that I have been able to do the same.
    Every day I pray for everyone that has been in my life. Even the stranger that passed by me at HEB and gave me a smile, or that person at church that said ” God bless you” as they passed by me. You never know who it might be…it could be Jesus!

    • Caro says:

      Absolutely wonderful, Julie! Thank you again for your response. I loved your insight about “specific blue prints.” And yes, we never know what mysteries are around the corner waiting for us to discover. I am, like you, a walking miracle.

      Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes– William Paul Young,

        The Shack
  • Mari Rodriguez says:

    What a beautiful and touching story, I enjoyed reading and meditating on it.
    Made me think of reflection I heard at a funeral, how the deceased met his wife. She was is wife’s caring nurse when he widowed with three children. After his grieving he could not forget this caring nurse. The rest is their story of 48 years.

    • Caro says:

      How beautiful, Mari! Thank you for adding to our reflection about the mystery of life and all its unexpected twists and turns. God bless you always! Have a blessed summer! Endings are not always bad. Most times they’re just beginnings in disguise. – Kim Harrison

      • Caro says:

        How beautiful, Mari! Thank you for adding to our reflection about the mystery of life and all its unexpected twists and turns. God bless you always! Have a blessed summer! Endings are not always bad. Most times they’re just beginnings in disguise. – Kim Harrison

  • Denise Guerra says:

    That story has always been one of my favorites. The story of life and the impact you will or will not make in others. The story of how we choose to live our lives. Do we have a positive or negative affect on those around us. The story of death, either ours or someone else’s. Will we reflect at the end of our lives and check to see if we have made a positive impact on others. I hope I have. Thank you for this wonderful story! ❤️

    • Caro says:

      Thank you very much, Denise, for your return to these pages and for your kind words. I particularly liked the phrase, “the story of death is either ours or someone else’s.” How true. Without a doubt you can rest assured that you have made a positive impact on the lives of many. God bless you and your family always!

      A teacher affects eternity; she can never tell where her influence stops. Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. They may forget what you said but they will not forget how you made them feel. All students can learn and succeed, but not in the same way and not in the same day.

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