How Justin Bieber Saved My Day

I’m not much of a crier… Only twice in the last ten years has a patient or a student actually made me cry–or almost cry–at work. One of them was when I worked in a skilled nursing unit (almost 10 years ago), but that’s a story for another day.

The other one was today.

I have a student on my caseload who has very high needs. She is a seriously darling child, quite the kick in the pants, and she makes me smile every time I see her. Because she’s so medically fragile, and her condition is deteriorating, we got her an iPad for a communication device, and I was programming it–or trying to, at least. The way I do it is super slow and cumbersome, and I’m sure there’s a faster way to program it, but it works.

So, we’re talking about music and TV shows, and I’m programming away. And then I made an innocent, if fatal, mistake: I asked her what her favorite song was.

The first time she said it, I hoped to God I hadn’t understood–she can be quite unintelligible. But then, she said it again, as clearly as she could, and I realized I hadn’t misunderstood.

She said, “Fix You. By Coldplay.” Clear as day.

And because I’m a speech path, I looked up at her aide, who gave me a confused shrug, and repeated it back to her.

And this little doll of a child replied, “Yeah. Fix You. My daddy sings it to me when he thinks I’m sleeping.”

“Fix You.” I know this dad, and he would if he could, but all the king’s horses and all the king’s men…

Oh, darlin’, I would if I could too.

But I can’t, so I’ll keep programming this device for the day when she needs it.

So I swallowed the lump in my throat and croaked, “What about Justin Bieber?” Because crap, I would program every god-forsaken Justin Bieber song into this damn computer just so long as I don’t have to put “Fix You” in there. Nothing like a little Justin Bieber to dry the eyes and make you want to run a spike through your skull (I’m over 30… My parents didn’t understand NKOTB, and I will never understand the allure of Justin Bieber, but more power to him).

And, because she’s six, she immediately brightened, stood up, and began singing, “Oh, baby, baby, baby… Oh, baby, baby, baby. I just love Justin Bieber!” and I started to laugh. Because at that moment, I loved him too. Anyone who can make this little person so happy is alright in my book. So, I programmed him in there while she danced around my office, singing.

After work, I came home and kissed my kids, the two little hearts that beat outside my chest. Kids who, God willing, will never need a device like that. Kids who, I pray, I WILL NOT sing “Fix You” to while they sleep, because I’m hoping for a cure that may never come.

I think I’ll go listen to some Justin Bieber now.


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