The Treasure Hunt

Happiness is a warm puppy.

– Charles Schultz, American cartoonist and creator of “Peanuts.”

Late one afternoon, Susie, the hospital chaplain for the oncology unit, dashed into my office with a special request. Julie, a young mother with terminal brain cancer, had just poured out her heart to Susie. Julie’s doctor had just informed her she only had about seven more days of lucidity before she would need to be on a morphine drip to control the pain her cancer would cause. This young mother was heartbroken, knowing she would never live to see her precious seven-year-old daughter, Megan, grow up. Not understanding what was happening to her mother, Megan had been begging for a puppy. Not exactly perfect timing…

Susie asked if we had anything with the image of a puppy or a stuffed dog in our Healing Environments stash. The happy answer was yes! We had a soft, cuddly fleece blanket, pure white with black paw prints all over it—think of all those dalmatians running wild on a white blanket of fleece snow!

Susie was thrilled, and we chatted while she patiently waited for me to take the photo, wrap the blanket, attach the blessing card, and seal the blanket in its plastic bag. With a hug, she was off to Julie with her “treasure.”

But that is not where the story ends.

Mary, Julie’s nurse, had the idea the blanket could be hidden somewhere in Julie’s room. When Megan arrived to visit her mom that evening, she could go on a “treasure hunt” to find her gift. After Julie composed a love note that was added, the package was secreted away. All was carried out according to plan, and when Megan discovered her treasure, her “puppy,” she squealed with delight and hopped up onto her mother’s bed. After taking the soft blanket out of the bag, they snuggled under it while reading the blanket blessing and Julie’s love note to her daughter. The tears were coursing down Julie’s face, a mixture of deep sorrow and sincere gratitude for Megan’s happiness in the face of their dire circumstances.