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Everyone saw her but nobody really noticed or wondered why she was standing on the marble steps looking at the cold December sky. She had what looked like a scroll rolled up in her hand.

Her blue eyes, which could pierce you like a sword, stared intensely toward a cloud, waiting for something. But what? Then she closed them and there appeared in her mind a beautiful child with curly red hair in a long white coat. She was perfect, all but for a wristband she was wearing. There was writing on it but the coat’s sleeve covered just enough so you couldn’t make it out.

The perfect child with the perfect hair was in a park watching the world around her. A homeless man on a wrought iron bench shared his last piece of bread with the pigeons; a mother fixed the wool cap secure on her baby nestled in his carriage; a young couple clearly in love walked arm-and-arm on the cobblestone path.

The little girl’s name was Jessica and she smiled as she turned her attention away from the people in the park and drew in a deep breath of the chilly air, waking her lungs. Then she fixed her eyes on the sky and waited. Finally she saw it. It had to be two stories up, gliding over the tree tops and making its way down. Jessica starting running toward it, trying to get underneath but it kept changing directions. Finally, as it got close to the ground, she zeroed in, stuck out her tongue and caught it. “First snowflake of the season,” she said. “Magic!”

The snowflake melted on her tongue just as she had melted the hearts of the doctors and nurses who had spent the last six weeks caring for her.  One of those nurses, just a couple years out of college, was named Nancy. She took Jessica’s hand and said, “There, you got it. Now a deal’s a deal kiddo. We have to get back or doc’s gonna kill me.” The girl with curly red hair squeezed the nurse’s hand tight, looked up and said, “It’s all gonna be alright now.”

The sound of a bus’s air brakes shook her awake from the memory and the woman on the marble steps opened her eyes. She drew a quick breath of the unforgiving winter air before going back inside the building and up to the pediatrics wing of the hospital. She changed into her white coat, grabbed a stethoscope and clipboard and started making her rounds.

Her first stop today was room 316 and a little girl named Brynn. “Brave Brynn” is what they called her on the floor since she came in with that terrible cough that turned out to be something much worse. Brynn was due for surgery later that day.

Her favorite doctor now stood in the doorway with something in her hand—a paper all rolled up. “Before we take you to surgery, I have to show you something my dear, something special.” The doctor handed Brynn the scroll and she opened it on her lap in the hospital bed. It was a drawing of a child with curly red hair and long white coat in a beautiful park catching a snowflake on her tongue. Brynn studied the drawing carefully and noticed the child’s wrist band, asking what it was. Doctor Jessica Danvers reached down and gently touched Brynn’s wrist, where she too wore a hospital band, and then explained the rest of the story, “When I was your age, Brynn, my heart didn’t work so good and doctors had to fix it. I had heard that the first snowflake of the season was magic so I got my nurse to bring me to the park across the street from this very hospital. I was patient and waited and then caught that first snowflake. It was magic because soon I got better and the day I left the hospital I drew this picture and gave it to the nurse who took me to the park that day—Nurse Nancy. This morning, as I stood outside worried about you, she saw me and came out and gave it back to me. I didn’t even know she still had it.”

Brynn, perhaps truly nervous for the first time since she was brought here, locked eyes with Jessica and said, “I’m gonna be OK, right doc?” Jess blinked back a tear, swallowed hard and said, “You bet you are. Now get your coat. The weatherman says it might snow today and we are going to the park.”

Three weeks later, on Christmas Eve, a little girl they called Brave Brynn went home and a doctor with curly red hair and piercing blue eyes found a gift waiting on the now vacant hospital bed. It was a new drawing of a child in the park, catching a little magic.

*This fictional story is dedicated to the brave children fighting battles and the amazing people who love and care for them. Merry Christmas.

John Gray is weekly columnist for the Troy Record and the Saratogian newspapers and news anchor at ABC 10 and FOX 23. He can be reached at


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