They say fate works in mysterious ways and I am inclined to believe this is true. Saturday marks the two year anniversary of when “Angel” had her open heart surgery at Children’s Hospital of Orange County. April 11 will always be a day I will clearly remember but fondly due to the things that have transpired over the last 24 months.
Today we saw this event come full circle as we provided a party and beside visits for children at CHOC. Our friends from OC Princess Productions came with ISP to bring the most amazing smiles I have ever seen to so many children who currently call CHOC their home. It was certainly one of the most inspiring and as one of the Princesses quoted, “humbling” things I have ever done or probably will continue to do.
In an effort to keep the privacy of so many of these families we will only share a couple of photos from the party room and clearly will keep the bedside visits as something sacred for the children, families, CHOC staff and ISP. However I would like to share some of our experiences and thoughts from today:
1. The first floor we were taken to for bedsides coincidentally was where “Angel” was exactly 2 years ago. It was a strange feeling to be back there under such vastly different circumstances but it still feels like a fraternity of sorts when I make eye contact with the parents there. It is just a look that is exchanged and completely understood if you have ever been in the pediatric ICU – especially the Cardio-vascular ICU. When we were there even the nurses told us they didn’t like being assigned to “that side” of the hall due of the severity and intensity of what goes on 24 hours a day inside those glass sliding doors to these rooms. Once I saw the children on these floors in the same tiger hospital gowns, it just sort of gave me this pit in my stomach. It was the first thing I said to my husband when I called, “remember those?”. Funny how the smallest things can trigger emotions such as a piece of clothing.
2. We spent most of our time on the Oncology floor. Many of the children were getting their chemo as we visited them. Their spirit is unwavering. One would never know how poorly they were feeling and what they must endure day to day when speaking to them had they looked well. Smiles on their faces. Joking and asking us questions. Taking their only ounce of energy to sit up to take a photograph with us. Parents smiling and thanking us profusely. Then there comes that word – “humbling”.
3. Many of the patients were teenage boys. The interesting thing is that they were some of the most excited to sit up and take advantage of the photo op. Maybe it’s just boys not missing an opportunity with some pretty girls? Well, we didn’t care, we just liked it! So Moms, if you have teenage boys, please let them know how utterly “cool” it is to do what adults thing you will deem as “uncool”. To the group of 14 year old boys with their friend going through treatment that came out of the elevator as we were going in – you are certainly amazing. Your support of your friend was so inspiring and your willingness to take some silly photos with a couple of princesses made you pretty much rock stars to us. Thank you.
4. Many times people mistakenly think that people that donate their time in entertainment activities for children’s hospitals or for terminally ill children is only for the children themselves. Clearly, that is what drives us to spend our time doing events like this – but unless you have witnessed something like today or ever had an extended stay with a child you might not immediately think it is also just as much for the families. The parents that continuously stay upbeat, positive and strong for their children while watching their children hurt, meet with doctors, lack sleep, sit through tests and hold hands during chemo. We were there for just as many reasons for them. These parents were so incredibly thankful, kind and just amazing. There is no other word to describe them other than angels.
This was truly an incredible day that we were grateful to be a part of at CHOC. For those of you who have supported us during this slow growth of a non-profit that has some big ideas in mind for our kids ~ thank you! It is because of you that a day like this was possible and will continue to be possible.
Lastly, Miss “Angel”, look what you inspired. Two years later and because of our experience with you we were inspired to bring something special to these children today. Because we saw what a simple gesture like a friendly face, a therapy dog visit or a princess photo did for you and the smile it created for you and us. We actually owe today to you and someday you will really understand how yours and “Peanuts” desire to always pay it forward is making a difference.
Happy 2 year Heart-iversay!!!