Latter-day Saint Life

Gifts of love in a hospital room


Five days before Christmas last year, Heather Van Boerum was walking through a parking lot when a driver accidentally hit the gas, pinning her between two cars. One of Heather’s legs was crushed on impact, and the other was severed. Heather was a guest on the All In podcast, and in the following excerpt from the episode, she shares how gifts of love—both earthly and heavenly—carried her through recovery.

This podcast excerpt has been edited for clarity.

Morgan Pearson: Heather, you were in the hospital at Christmastime. There’s no good time to be in the hospital, but it’s especially hard at that time of the year. The Instagram account that your daughter runs for you recounts the kindness of so many people, including hospital staff, who decorated your room. What did those acts of kindness mean to you, especially during the holidays?

Heather Van Boerum: For me personally, it meant so much that it was Christmastime because I felt Jesus Christ’s spirit, and everybody else was focused on that and the spirit of giving, and I became the recipient of everyone’s well-wishes. The nurses decorated the room, and it was just beautiful. They put up these twinkling lights, and when I would come back from my surgeries, I would see those beautiful lights.

My family also brought me pictures of Christ to hang in my room. Christ’s Atonement and the gift He gave us when He suffered on the cross was very much a big part of my thoughts in the hospital. When I wasn’t quite coherent, I had a breathing tube in and I couldn’t talk, but I could hear Primary Christmas music playing, and I was convinced there was an organ in the next room over. But there wasn’t. It was just me, and the Spirit was comforting me with His music and the words from the songs.

MP: That’s so beautiful. On December 28, just eight days after your accident, you had a pretty incredible experience: you were able to watch your daughter give birth to your first grandchild, who was even named after you. Your daughter was originally supposed to deliver at the University of Utah, but it was arranged that she would deliver at the hospital where you were. What did it mean to you to be there?

HV: That was such a gift and something I will never forget. My daughter Anika was ready to deliver soon, and I think some people from one hospital talked to people from the other hospital and got together and they were able to make it happen.

I was just shocked that they were going to do it because I had not been moved at all yet. You have to remember I’d had many surgeries: my hips were healing and my legs were healing. But they very, very carefully got me on a gurney, and we all went down. When I saw Anika in the labor and delivery room, my heart was just full of joy.

They wheeled me in and put me right next to her, and we held hands as this little baby came to earth. That meant so much to me because days earlier, as they were wheeling me down for what would be my longest surgery, and one that I was really worried about how I was going to make it through, I prayed and spoke to Heavenly Father. I said to Him, “I will give it all I’ve got, if you will meet me where I can’t go any further and if Christ will make up my difference.” I also had the thought in mind that I wanted to see my granddaughter born on this earth and hoping that could be. So when I was actually wheeled down and put right next to my daughter and held her hand and saw that precious little baby come into this earth—it just meant the world to me.

Heather and her husband, Don, are the parents of five children. While raising their family, Heather enjoyed doing anything active and volunteering in the community. She now shares the story of her accident to inspire others and looks forward to progressing in her physical journey and getting back to all the activities she loves.

Listen to the full episode in the player below or find more All In episodes here.

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