Day 8: Beads of Courage

I’ve never been particularly fond of scars but over time I’m increasingly comfortable with mine. My body bears quite a few physical reminders of my sons, hot Thanksgiving meal platters, a flying iron during a freshman dorm conversation and some deepening creases around my eyes and smile.

Physical reminders are important, whether they mark the body, burial sites, battlegrounds, or joyful moments. Symbols are important.

In the children’s center of this hospital, teams have worked to create a physical representation of what the patients endure. Last week I was introduced to Beads of Courage.
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This is an amazing project. First, the patient receives a Daily Bead Journal. Inside we mark the bubbles to indicate what has been endured that day/week. Each item has a corresponding bead.
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For example, we’ve had a bone biopsy, so we mark and receive a beige bead. We receive one yellow bead for every day we stay overnight at the hospital. We receive an orange bead for his central line surgery and a black bead for his first day’s IV.
Our additional beads include chemotherapy/immunizations (white), infusions (purple), lumbar puncture (turquoise), ECHO (green), transfusions/blood products (red), and Care Team visits from Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech (rainbow).

William received a string with his name on it, alone with some important “starter” beads.

The Strength Bead: This small but mighty acorn bead is in honor of your growth during all the changes and challenges you encounter. Just like the mighty oak tree, acorns are symbols of great personal strength and survival. You have strength and courage!
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The Helping Hand Bead: Think of this bead as a helping hand reaching out to you, a healing touch or as a thoughtful heart when you are faced with difficult decisions and challenges. (This symbolizes all of YOU!)
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The Fish Bead: Just like fish that travel far through lakes, rivers and oceans, your fish bead is a symbol of the courage you too must have as you travel away from the comforts of your home to get treatment, and to symbolize the other upstream battles you face.
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The Anchor Bead: Your family, friends an caregivers are thinking of you and offer the anchor as a symbol of hope. The anchor was often a seaman’s last report in stormy weather; it is the anchor that remains firm and steady amidst the stormy waters. We hope that the anchor will be a symbol of strength for you to help you see through the ‘storms’ of life.
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I know many of you reading this have children with strings full of beads. I’ve heard of great displays in shadow boxes and all manner of art projects. I can’t wait to review all these beads with the boys when they are older.

I can’t help but wonder what our strings would look like if we had Beads of Courage for all we endure. I imagine it is much like receiving ‘jewels in our crowns’ and ‘bricks in our mansions’, as my Momma used to say.

Take courage, Warriors. We endure more than we know! Be proud of your physical reminders and take time to remember the times in which our strength was built.
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2 thoughts on “Day 8: Beads of Courage

  1. While it is my heart’s desire that your little conqueror did not have a need for these beads, this is an amazing gesture of support. It is a beautiful thing. I can’t wait to see the finished beads. As you know I have many scars, and I am supremely grateful for the healing that has been done over those physical and emotional scars. I love the metaphor of picturing these triumphs over trials as jewels in our crowns for our Heavenly Father. Beautiful. Love this and you!

  2. LOVE this physical reminder for now and later….for your family *and* for others God may place in your lives to encourage in similar situations.

    Thank you for taking the time to keep us updated when we know you need to be resting.

    Much love! Prayers constant.

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