After finishing my phlebotomy course, I was placed in Richford Hospital for two weeks of clinical work. During my second week, Emma, one of the phlebotomists, approached me and my proctor, Stacey.

“I need blood drawn from a few patients on the pediatric floor. Do you mind coming up and helping me?” Emma asked.

To draw on the pediatric floor you must be specially trained, and neither Stacey nor I had that certification. I had never even been on the floor.

But we figured we could assist Emma, who was trained, and headed upstairs.

Watching the labels come out of the small printer, I frozeWhen we had finished with the first patient, Emma said she had two more rooms on that floor: Room 35 and Room 13. “Which room do you want to go to, Stacey? Neither of them are little children, so you can draw on them.”

“Either one,” Stacey said. “It doesn’t really matter; I guess we’ll go to Room 35.”

Emma thanked us, and we walked down the hall.

Standing outside the room with our cart, I proceeded to print out the labels for the tubes of blood. Watching the labels come out of the small printer, I froze. I recognized this name. Ahava. I knew this girl from my community. A few weeks ago I had received her full Hebrew name, with a request that I pray for her health.

Thinking quickly, I decided not to enter the room. I didn’t want to compromise her privacy. Maybe she didn’t want anyone to know she was in the hospital. I didn’t say anything to Stacey, but I waited outside while she went in to draw the blood.

“This is so strange,” I thought to myself. “Of all the floors in the hospital, of all the rooms on this floor, we were given this room? This patient?”

Standing right in the doorway, I peeked through the curtains to make sure I was right. There she was, a beautiful, 16-year-old girl looking pale, weak and frail. I quickly turned away. How could it be? My heart went out to her.

Suddenly I heard Stacey calling me from inside the room. “Devorah, can you bring me a transfer device?”

I became numb. What could I do? I didn’t have a choice. I had to go inside.

Holding the transfer device tightly in my hand, I slowly entered the room and pulled the curtain aside. Our eyes met, and Ahava’s face burst into the biggest smile I have ever seen.

“Oh my goodness, it’s so good to see you!” she said.

Handing the transfer device to Stacey, I walked over to the side of her bed, and we began to talk.

Before I left, I promised I would visit, and told her I would continue to pray for her.

The next day I was in the local kosher supermarket when I heard someone call my name.

“You should just know how you made her day.”“Devorah,” my friend said, running over to me, “You should just know how you made her day.”

At first I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. Then I realized that she was good friends with Ahava.

“As soon as you left she texted me, ‘You’ll never believe who was just in my room!’ You really made her day, Devorah.”

My friend told me that Ahava would be in the hospital over Passover, and we decided that we would walk over to visit her on Sunday, the second day of the holiday..

The next day, I found myself looking forward to my lunch break. Instead of spending the hour with my colleagues, I headed upstairs to visit her, as I had promised. We took a walk down the hall together and found a bench near a large window.

Sitting in the sunlight, she mentioned that she was going to be in the hospital over Passover.

“Oh,” I said, trying to look like this was news to me.

“Yes, and we’re hosting a Passover Seder for the whole floor. The hospital has never had a Seder before, and they are all very excited. I sent out invitations to all the rooms. Everyone is invited.”

“Wow, that’s amazing!” I said.

Just then her father came by. “Hi, sweetie,” he said. “I just got off the phone with Jerry Cohen from Superb Kosher Catering. He heard you’re in the hospital, and how you’re running a Seder for the whole floor. He called me up to say he wants to donate all the food for the Seder, and any food we’re going to need over Pesach.”

Her happiness was contagiousAhava’s smile of joy spread through her whole body. Her happiness was contagious, and all of us felt our moods lifted.

Looking at my watch, I saw my lunch break was almost over. I said goodbye, and promised I would visit again.

As arranged, on the second day of Passover my friend and I made the hour-long walk to the hospital.

We found a security guard at the front desk and asked him how we could get upstairs without using the elevator. He explained that we could only take the staircase up to the fourth floor. Because there are infants on the fifth floor, the door is kept locked.

We were stuck. But we weren’t about to give up. We explained that we had come to visit a friend, and that we had walked an hour just to get there.

“You girls are Jewish, is that right? Orthodox, hmm, yeah, I know,” he said. “Hold on, let me make one quick phone call.”

My friend and I exchanged smiles as he picked up the phone and began dialing. “All right, girls,” he said, hanging up. “Come with me. I’m gonna walk you up and unlock the doors for you.”

“Thank you, Hashem,” we whispered.

“Actually, my name is John, but you’re welcome,” he said. “You Jews are amazing; I can’t believe you walked all this way.”

When we saw her radiant face, we knew the walk had been worth it.

“Tell us about the Seder!” we said in unison. We sat down and she began recounting the highlights. The patients sat together, sang, told stories and shared a delicious meal. A wonderful time was had by all.

Being in the hospital can be lonely and depressing, but this 16-year-old girl took the opportunity to bring light and joy to others. We never know why we are placed in certain situations. I don’t know why G‑d wanted me to see Ahava in the hospital. But I do know that I was touched and inspired by her courage and optimism. I am truly grateful that I was given this opportunity to learn from her.

A once young and carefree Jewish teenager is slowly losing her eyesight and her mobilityA few days after Passover, we learned her diagnosis. A once young and carefree Jewish teenager is slowly losing her eyesight and her mobility. I tremble when I think about her. I can’t even imagine what she’s going through. It’s with our prayers that we can make a difference.

Please pray for Ahava Leah bas Esther Gila. She can use it.