It was hidden in plain sight. Oh, I had seen it before but it didn’t seem significant so I simply paid no attention. Then, during my last week, when the receptionist mentioned I was nearing the end of my treatment, she said, “We’ll hear the bell ring Friday!”
I looked for the bell. It’s a pretty gold-colored bell mounted on a nice plaque, and has a red ribbon attached. Now I understood. The sound of the bell tells everyone another patient has completed his or her program.
Then came Friday, marking the end of my scheduled radiation therapy. Everyone I met that morning made mention of that landmark. Yes, everyone – registration, technicians, doctor, nurse – everyone. When my session ended, I received a certificate denoting this special day. The team who had worked with me had signed it with best wishes.
The certificate offers congratulations on finishing and graduating from radiation therapy. It’s a nice keepsake, a nice reminder of the compassionate care I received during the past month.. Not only was this group of professionals interested in the completion of radiation, they were also interested in my upcoming mission trip.
When I said I might not go, they were saddened, but on that last morning, when I said, “Yes, I’m going,” they were cheered by the news.
You see, even though actual time spent with any particular person was really quite minimal, we had developed a friendship in which each cares about the other and whatever it is that affects them.
After my last meeting with the nurse to receive discharge instructions, she walked me to lobby asking as we walked, “Do you want to ring the bell?”
“Yes,” I answered, “even though most people are gone to lunch I do want to ring the bell.”
We stepped into an empty waiting room. She read the significance of the bell aloud. The person ringing it is to pull the clapper three times. For that empty room, I took hold of that red ribbon and pulled it – ONE! The door across the room burst open and several people who had been enjoying their lunch break appeared clapping and calling out congratulations and best wishes as I finished my last two pulls.
I had been asked earlier that morning if anyone was with me. I thought it strange they would ask when no one had been with me for any of the treatments. Now, I understood. They could have joined in the celebration.
I enjoyed the celebration and wishes. It felt like family. And for at least some of them, it truly is family by this time We have seen each other and become somewhat acquainted over a 25-day stretch. They had been concerned about me.
By now, I was assured through our conversations that I will see some of them again when we ring those golden bells at heaven’s doors, for we had shared our love of Jesus over that 25-day period.
Talk about celebrations! When we ring those bells and step onto heaven’s welcome mat, we will be totally at home with family, friends, and hordes we never knew. Will you be there?