At this time of year Sweden is engulfed in darkness. We all long for light. Candles burn in every window. Candles are a part of Swedish winter, and especially at Christmas.
Today I read the following article in the journal of the Swedish Medical Association, Läkartidningen. It brought tears to my eyes. This is an English translation, but the original article can be found here.
Like angels in the darkness
General Practice registrar, Uppsala, Sweden
My name is Mariko Yoshinaga Galvér and I am a GP registrar in a health centre in Uppsala. I came to Sweden twelve years ago from Japan, where I studied medicine.
I have never written before but I feel compelled to tell the story of something special that happened yesterday.
Yesterday I received a patient, an unaccompanied refugee child.
The referral that came with her said she was tired, and she had been booked in for a 45 minute appointment, with a telephone interpreter. I saw in the medical records that the child had experienced every imaginable horror in her homeland. I realised that this was going to be a challenging meeting and as I went out to the waiting room my steps were slow and deliberate.
The girl sat alone, looking tense. I discovered that she can speak Swedish, so we dispensed with the interpreter. Seated in my office she spoke slowly and calmly; I was amazed by her calmness. I examined her. I saw the scars on her little body.
For the first time in my life I thought of God, there in my office. I am not religious, I come from a Buddhist land, though I did marry in a Swedish church. But for the first time I thought of God and I prayed: please God, help her.
And then I heard children singing, quietly and calmly. We looked at each other, my patient and I, her glance confirming that I wasn’t just hallucinating.
We went out of the room. We saw many beautiful children, dressed in white, candles in their hands. Suddenly I remembered, today was Lucia and the children before us were the Lucia train. They looked just like angels in the darkness. The staff were happy and listened as the children sang. One of the nurses fetched a chair so that a mother bearing a child in her arms could sit and listen.
The angels looked us with their beautiful, beautiful smiles.
I am convinced that this girl will be happy here. Things like this don’t happen in Japan. Maybe they don’t happen in other countries either. She will be happy in Sweden.
I cycled home. And I began to cry as I thought about the day’s Lucia.
You know God, that I have also been happy here, in Sweden.