Today was a good day. It was a sweet reminder of what truly matters as well as spreading some holiday joy. Sarah and I volunteered at Snow Pile at Children's Hospital. All patients received an overflow of Christmas gifts today. Parents got their own personal shopper, who helped to pick out presents for all their children. An enormous conference room is converted to a glorious toy store filled with gifts for all ages.
Do you remember when we participated in Snow Pile? I believe it was in 2008. This was the first Christmas you were hospitalized. You had a bad case of pneumonia. We were so hopeful you would come home in time for the holidays, but it was not in your cards that year. I remember a volunteer entering our room to take me to Snow Pile. I remember being surprised to be assigned a personal shopper and entering the large conference room filled with toys. I was behind on my Christmas shopping, so the timing was perfect. I knew Sarah would especially enjoy the extra gifts under the Christmas tree. It spread some light in a stressful day of fever, tired lungs and antibiotics.
Today, Sarah and I were the volunteers entering patients' rooms. We were responsible for the PICU. We know that unit in and out, and the familiar click of the heavy door as I was entering the floor. I know the cleanliness of the floor and the endless rows of monitors in each room. I know the feeling of sleep deprivation bundled with stress and anxiety. I know how hard it is to leave your child, even for a brief moment to go shopping. I know the only thing you want for Christmas is to have your child home again.
As I escorted the parents down to Snow Pile, I got a glimpse in to the lives of the moms and dads. The hope of being home in time for Christmas despite it being less than a week away. Parents suddenly realizing that life is going on outside of the doors of the PICU. Their smiles as they realized they would get a little break and a little help this year. I was so happy I could relate to their stories. I touched a shoulder of a mom who had not slept all night and suggested her to take a nap this afternoon. I encouraged a dad to ask his physician to explain what the plan for his daugher is. I told a mom about the holiday meal served in the hospital on Christmas Day. It was tidbits from our lives, and little moments of understanding between two parents knowing what is going on inside the hospital walls.
I got a big hug from your physician during your last and final hospital stay. She was so happy to see both Sarah and I. She asked if I was ok. I thought about it before I answered, and I could tell her that I am ok. In fact, it felt great being back in our familiar place and give back. I also got to hug and chat with some of your favorite nurses throughout the day. I did have to take an extra big breathe as I passed the room where you died, but I was doing ok. I am in a place I still call home.
I am so incredibly proud of your sister. She has found her own place at Children's. She knows her people all over the hospital, and she is very good with parents and patients, even when she is surrounded by the sickest children of the hospital. I always knew you were going to give her the gift of compassion. I see it, Jacob.
It was a day of spreading joy and the holiday spirit in a place you introduced to us. It was even better sharing the day with dear friends.
Sweet Jacob, I think of you so much this time of the year. As I put on my favorite leggings this morning, I realized that the pants would be perfect to snuggle up with you in a hospital bed. The simplest of things are what I miss the most. How grateful I am tonight that I got to simply be part of the holiday spirit right in the heart of the hospital.
I love you to the moon and back,
This is why I love this place.