|Bright-eyed & bushy-tailed! ~ first time she opened her eyes!!!|
OK, so after going down several of these long hallways, up an elevator, down another hallway, through some familiar-looking double doors, and then left-turning into the Ronald McDonald Family Room, it all hit me. Tears welled up in my eyes, I was damn near speechless, and I got that shivery feeling all over again (adrenaline?) because I HAD BEEN THERE BEFORE. I remembered carrying my Claire-bug through those double doors into the PICU in a panic with tears streaming down my face 6+ years prior... I remembered that room SO WELL... that couch, the front desk area with all the really nice ladies, talking on the phone to my friend, Nan, crying, showering in their room, and basically living up there until we were able to take Claire home a few days later.
|March 2, 2005 ~ Our precious Claire|
I guess I was most surprised by how deep those memories ran for me. How so much time has passed, so many new memories have been made since then, we've lived in the moment, & we have LOVED EACH DAY with Claire ever since then because we realized how fragile life truly is, yet the pain was still so close to the surface, requiring just 3-4 minutes in a room from my past to reduce me to tears.
If any of you have ever had one of those TV moments where a doctor pulls you out into a quiet hallway away from your child's bedside to tell you, "I'm not sure she's going to make it... typical kids with this level of illness and dehydration usually do not survive something this serious." then you might know where I am coming from. I pray I NEVER have to experience that again.
While in the Ronald McDonald room, my friend was busy talking with the front desk lady while I was observing the room and its occupants, remembering where I used to sit, what the couch looked like, how it was all still arranged the same, etc. I had noticed a group of 5-6 people sitting around the round table to my left. They were probably around 21-22 years old, they were visiting quietly, and they had gotten drinks/snacks. Shortly thereafter, two more 21-22 year old guys walked in, and at that very moment, one of the girls and one of the guys stood up from the table, and they embraced the two men who'd just entered the room. Their hugs lasted a good 30-45 seconds, if not longer. They were sobbing, heaving, crying out loud. No one spoke a word -- just hugs and many tears. The next few minutes was spent with all 7-8 of them exchanging more hugs, tears, and few words with one another. I cannot recall the last time I saw a room full of early 20 year olds (mostly male) sobbing. Tears were streaming down my face just watching them, not even knowing their story or situation. The raw emotion was brutal... and I said a quick prayer for whomever their tears were directed toward.
As we left the room, Nicole saw me crying, and I explained what I'd seen. Her best advice, which comes from many months of hospitalizations for her preemie babies, was to have tunnel vision. Otherwise, it's just TOO DAMN HARD. And she's right... it was HEARTBREAKING. I felt SO MUCH for those "kids" and what they were experiencing... I remembered our own life or death situation there 6+ years prior. We were fortunate... others are not. And I have to wonder WHY??? WHY do so many others not have the luxury of taking their babies home? God granted Claire MORE TIME... I just wish all children could be so fortunate.
Just a few weeks ago, we were at this same hospital for an MRI on Cal's injured knee. It wasn't until we walked into that part of the hospital that we realized we had been there before, too. As Cal was called back into the VERY same room where Claire had her brain MRI done on the 2nd day of her life back in 2001, once again, ALL those raw emotions flooded back. And for the 20 minutes we sat listening to the booms and clicks of the MRI machine, I closed my eyes, they welled with tears, and I kept flashing back to nearly ten years prior when all our hopes and dreams were on the line, desperately waiting for the results of that ONE TEST which would determine the course of not only our daughter's life, but also our own. Thank goodness we weren't really supposed to talk during Cal's MRI because I'm not sure I could have. Even that same wooden rocking chair from nearly a decade prior sat in the corner still... down in the bleak, dark basement of Wesley Hospital. To have come SO FAR these last 6+ years... yet things still remained so much the same.
I feel like an entirely different person now. We are light years beyond where we stood in that room so many years ago. We've been blessed with TIME, and for that, I am so grateful.
“One day at a time -- this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering.”