"At 8, like a grown-up"


The first time I stayed in a hospital I must have been 8 years old. It was in Montreal, in Ste-Justine. I had my ears operated and I had to sleep in a room with 3 other children. I remember too well when my parents were about to leave the room. They weren't gone yet since my heart was heavy. One night with 3 strangers and an operation the next morning, let's say that I was not very happy.

Yet it was a simple operation to correct an ear problem. However, for me, this experience that cut me off for a moment from my parents was the unknown, the insecurity.

My father, (worried by nature) looked at me with a certain sadness that he could not hide, and my mother, she had to find the words to make me feel strong and courageous. The words she used were going to serve me as allies in my loneliness."You will see how it will go" "The nurses are there" "You will do this like a grown-up".

In the darkness of the night in this hospital room, where the beds with metal barriers and the beeps in the corridors tinged the atmosphere with disturbing coldness, it was my mom's words that warmed my being.

Today after more than twenty-eight years of volunteering with sick children and their families, trying to communicate the importance of "comfort for children struggling with the disease" this memory is still and always like the little flame lit which recalls this insecurity, which, in a single, night woke me up forever.



On December 27, I returned to an operating room as a patient. This time for knee surgery. Like the first operation, 47 years earlier, everything went well.


And in the heart of the holiday season it was inevitably the children in the hospitals that I thought of, and it was this thought that, again, rekindled my little flame. Children, in jackets, determined little beings who have received the words to deal with their darkness, whatever it is. Inspired and loved children, children who, in turn, become wonderfully inspiring beings. So it's not for nothing that it is often the sick children themselves who end up inspiring their parents.

The words offered as comfort may sometimes seem futile, but it is all the love and confidence of the dictator who comes to empower them.

And you know what, forty-seven years ago, when my parents came to find me in my hospital room the next morning after the operation, it was not only their 8-year-old child that they found , it is also a small warrior who had overcome his fear of the night.


Happy New Year 2019 to all sick children and their families.

Alain Dumas

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