Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hospital Doors

I entered the elevator with a handful of items from our hospital stay that kept Lydia entertained.  A smile was on my face that could not be wiped, my daughter was finally smiling again feeling well enough to break lose of this place.  The doors closed and we went down a floor, the elevator door opened and a man walked on who had tears flowing down his face.  He held some woman's belongings close to his heart and looked at the floor.  No words had to be uttered and my heart ached for him.

Sometimes those hospital doors just aren't fair.  Behind one of those doors could be the happiest feeling in the world, could be the worse pain ever, could be moments of terror and fear, could be painful or something you thought could never happen to you.  An entire building full of the unknown, huge fears, hurting people, stories of hope, wonderful celebrations.  As each door opens and closes a different story is revealed.

I think back to our time spent in the hospital.  Those doors swung open and closed on so many emotions, hard times, painful memories, hurting moments, celebrations, and triumphs.  Such mixed emotions when you walked through those doors, such trying times, such turmoil, an unexpected journey that I never thought could happen to us.  And through every door you walked there was a different story, there were different pains, there were different heart aches, there were different triumphs and celebrations.

I remember finding out behind one of those hospital doors that we were expecting and the joy that filled our hearts.  I remember the first ultra sound and how excited we were.  Yet in that same room, months later, came hurt and heart ache as we found out there was something not quite right with our sweet baby.  As we entered more and more hospital doors, the stories were different, the times were tough, the pains got worse and there were even times when the door swung open and closed that we celebrated and embraced milestones we never thought were possible. 

No matter how that door may swing, there are people who walk through that door as a stranger and become part of your family, they become part of your journey.  The nurses, and care partners, and doctors, and support people, and house keepers, and surgeons, and the list goes on.  They are strong folks to experience these stories and become your hope and care for your child (or you) in ways that you couldn't.  They become more than a "hospital staff member" they are part of your family, they are your friend.

These people experience life and death in the same moment.  They may have come from one door where the baby did not make it, they gave hugs of comfort and healing in a families deepest darkest moments.  They may enter through another door, moments later, where the news was just received that the Chemo is working; this life will be spared for the moment.  They participate in moments of celebration and joy.  The story is different through each door, yet the impact is priceless as the story of each patient unfolds.

I think about the hugs and smiles, the tears that have been wiped, not just for me, for Lydia, for my husband, but for Ellen and Allison too.  I think of the many shoulders that were there for me to cry on and the tissue given to wipe another tear away.  For all who enter that room and are part of this journey.  These folks are heroes and often times don't understand the impact on a families life.  That hug, that smile, that moment you deprived yourself of lunch or the bathroom to listen for one more second.  It makes a difference.  That time you just listened as a mother poured her heart out, even if it did not matter to that person, it mattered to that mother.

I am forever grateful for these people who expose themselves of these hospital doors.  Who open themselves to stories of hurt and joy.  Who experience these feelings along with the families and the patients who give everything to bring a smile, to offer a hug, to listen a little longer.  These people who help a child who does not understand what is happening, you will always be part of their journey, their story, you play an important role.  Without these people exposing themselves to the hospital doors, these families would be weak, would have little hope, and would be hurting in a time of great hurt.

I think about the many nurses and doctors, the housekeeper who helped with Lydia's recent stay.  The impact they made to just listen and care.  I hear how Ellen and Allison talk about the nurses and the doctors.  How they have become part of our family.  They have experienced some fears and worry, but celebrated and triumphed over some of the best moments right alongside our family.  We knew you only for a second, but you have made an impact to last a lifetime.  Offering care and concern through a tough trial and giving us everything for that moment you were in our room...we thank you!

I reflect on this as we approach three years old with Lydia.  We have had therapists who have become part of our lives, part of our family.  Soon they will be there no more.  We can't just call them when we are struggling, we can't celebrate with them when she reaches a milestone, we won't have that support when times are tough, they can't teach our other girls the most effective ways to play with their sister, they won't have that inside look into our family and help raise this special girl.  The house door will swing and a different story will begin.

I just pray that our care takers read this and start to understand the impact that you have had on our family.  That when we think back on our journey we have shared in so many memories with strangers, yet family.  You walked through that door not knowing who we were, not ever meeting our little girl.  You walked out of that door, part of our family, having the pleasure of knowing the sweetest little girl, experiencing our journey; either pain or joy.  You have impacted Ellen and Allison in profound ways.  We thank you for the care you have given, for loving Lydia as your own.  We appreciate you experiencing our story as we have.

Hospital doors are not fair most of the time, but for our family you have made a lasting impact, you have been part of our journey.  You have eased our fear and pain of raising a child who has special needs and many medical complications.  Thank you never seems like enough.  We cannot repay you for the care you have shown to our family, we cannot express enough gratitude for taking the extra time, caring for our entire family as your own.

We know that you were placed there at that specific moment to save our daughter's life by our loving Father.  You were given the skills to take care of our family and we are so blessed that God chose you to be part of our journey.  Thank you is not enough, but maybe you will start to understand the impact you make on families and lives.  How important you are to so many.

As hospital doors continue to swing open and closed, we thank you for what you do.  Thank you for walking in a stranger and out as part of our family.  Thank you for giving your all to care for our family, to be so special.  Thank you for exposing yourself to the stories behind the hospital doors.

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