A childless nurse hugs a crying little boy who recently lost his mother. She gives him her treasured possession as a memento and never meets him again until 20 years later when he unexpectedly calls her up to the stage during an awards night.
Nurse Claire was passing by the park that day. She had no car and usually walked home on foot after her shift at the local clinic. She sighed heavily and slowed down, seeing many kids running around. Claire felt haunted by her unfulfilled desire to have children and could no longer hold back her tears.
“How I wish I had children,” she painfully sighed. Claire and her husband John were married for ten years but never conceived.
“You are too weak to bear a child. Surrogacy could work,” doctors told her. But the latter was out of the question for Claire. She wanted to feel her pregnancy, not just arrange for another woman to carry her little joy in their womb on her behalf.
Distracted by painful thoughts, Claire was sauntering down the footpath when she noticed a little boy sitting alone near the pond. He buried his face in his palms and wept bitterly, worrying Claire…
“Poor little one…why is he crying?” she wondered and looked around. Claire spotted a few people jogging and walking around but could not determine if they were related to the boy. She sighed and approached him. He was startled when he felt Claire’s hand on his shoulder from behind.
“Hey there! I’m Claire. What’s your name, and what are you doing here all alone?” she asked him. “And why are you crying? Is everything alright?”
“I want to honor the woman who brought a new meaning to my life…I would like to call her up on the stage…Ladies and gentlemen, please give Ms. Claire a big round of applause!”
The boy remained silent for a few minutes and then began to talk. “My name is Tommy. I used to walk with my mommy in this park,” he explained. “We used to sit near this pond and feed the fish. But now she’s gone. She has gone to daddy in heaven.”
Tommy’s innocent reply moved Claire to tears. She did not know how to comfort him. She remembered the grief she endured when her mother passed away 11 years ago. Claire felt compassion for Tommy and decided not to leave without consoling him.
“Come here,” she hugged the sad little one tightly. “Sweetheart, sometimes, hugs are the best medicine. When you are let down or want to make someone feel better, just hug them. That’s what I always do to my loved ones when I see them sad or whenever I’m upset!” she said, calming little Tommy.
Miraculously, the boy stopped crying and smiled. Claire then took a chain with a locket and gave it to him as a memento. It had her photo with the inscription ‘Claire W.’ and was dear to her heart because it was the last gift from her late mother.
“Whenever you need a hug, just hold this locket,” said Claire. “And whenever you see that someone is sad, just go hug them. It will make a world of difference to them.”
Tommy’s uncle and aunt, who were walking in the park, took him with them. He parted ways with Claire that day, and she thought they would never meet again.
“That little boy was so cute, darling. I wish I could’ve given him some money to buy something nice, but I didn’t have any,” Claire narrated the encounter to John.
“Darling, it’s okay! You’ve given him something priceless and more valuable than money—you’ve given him a treasured piece of your love!” comforted John.
His words warmed Claire’s heart, and she was assured Tommy would overcome his grief. Twenty years passed, and she had almost forgotten about the boy. The only thing that often reminded her of him was remembering he had her locket.
One day, Claire went to the door to fetch the newspaper when she noticed an envelope tucked into her mailbox. “That’s weird! We haven’t received letters for a long time. Who could have sent it?” she wondered.
Claire tore open the envelope and noticed it was addressed to her from a medical association not far from town. It was an invitation to a prestigious awards ceremony. Claire was confused because it was clearly addressed to her.
“I think you should go. You are a retired nurse, remember? Maybe they sent this invitation to all nurses….” John told her. Claire was confused and agreed to attend the ceremony, unprepared for what she was about to see there.
Claire arrived at the venue and saw a group of older people sitting on the stage. One of them was talking on the mic, praising someone.
“He has one strange medication that has cured us. It is incredible. He always says how this one little prescription would be enough to heal us and motivate us to battle every obstacle physically and emotionally. Please put your hands together for Dr. Thomas!” the man announced.
Claire watched as a tall, young man in a black suit walked onto the podium and stared back at the huge audience applauding him. She could not believe her eyes. Could it be Tommy?
“That one hug she gave me 20 years ago motivated me to help others overcome their grief and struggles. And here I am…That sad little boy became Dr. Thomas…She taught me that nothing cures like a hug, and she was right. Besides the medication I prescribe to my patients, I also advise them to hug their loved ones!” Thomas said.
Claire could not believe her eyes and burst into tears when he showed everyone a locket. It was the same locket she’d given Tommy 20 years ago in the park.
“Today, I want to honor the woman who brought a new meaning to my life. I would like to call her up on the stage to present this award to me. Ladies and gentlemen, please give Ms. Claire a big round of applause!” said Thomas.
Claire was moved to tears. “Ms. Claire, come on up!” said Thomas, waving at her. She walked onto the podium and stood there, stunned at how wonderful little Tommy had grown to be.
Thomas hugged her, whispering loving words of gratitude for helping him realize his purpose in life. He returned her treasured locket to Claire, telling her he found her address from the hospital she once worked in.
“My nickname is Tommy!” he laughed. “I moved abroad 20 years ago with my uncle, but my heart was still with the woman who changed my life near the pond…Your locket was the only souvenir I had of you and that motivated me to battle my fears and grief. And I did it!” cried Thomas.
Claire and Thomas hugged again, shedding tears of joy. The awards ceremony ended with an explosion of confetti as Claire handed the trophy to Thomas.
What can we learn from this story?
Never forget those who motivated you to overcome your struggles. When Claire comforted Tommy, he never anticipated the difference her kind words would make in his future. Twenty years later, he called her to a stage and recognized her contribution to his life.
Do not let circumstances define your future. Little Tommy was devastated after his mother’s death. But after meeting nurse Claire and listening to her kind words, he was able to move on. Her motivation, paired with the treasured locket she gave him, helped him overcome his grief.