Friday, March 9, 2012

how a 'minor' holiday became meaningful

ok, saint patrick's day is fun (except when you are in grade school and some jerk wants to pinch you all day long because you forgot to wear green)

i gotta say that it's never been of great importance to me though.

but then we spent last year's st. patrick's day in johns hopkins hospital while our 7 yr old little boy underwent a huge surgical procedure inside his ribs.  the first of many.

when i was packing and planning for the first surgery, i made sure i had plenty of "fun" things, including tons of silly, green st. patty's day items:)

oh, how much i did not know.  about the procedure and how it would affect my son.  how he would be so completely consumed by pain that nothing else mattered.  how we would try to make it minute by minute and get by reading the encouraging words written to him from friends and family inside of sweet cards.  he would lay there with silent tears rolling down his little boy cheeks and i would hold his hand and wish with all that is in me that i could carry a piece of his pain.  i think every parent knows that feeling at some point.

needless to say, the silly green st. patrick's day stuff i had brought was not going to mean squat to us!  what helped the very most was the myriad of cards and little gifts that had been showered on him by loved ones.  when he was at his worst, he would ask me to read him these cards.  it not only meant alot to him and somehow helped him cope with the pain, but it meant the world to me as well.  it is impossible to describe how very grateful you feel towards others when they reach out and love your child.  my husband and i were beside him through it all, but the friends and family back home were there for him in a way that we could never be.

being in johns hopkins isn't like being in any other hospital.  people fly from all over the world to be treated there.  hopkins sees cases that are rare, difficult, and require specialists and expert care.  being on the school aged childrens level is a very emotional experience.  i dare you to enter and not shed tears.  i dare you to not be moved and feel so very humbled by the state of your priorities.  just try to look a beautiful child in the face who is struggling for health or life or healing and worry about anything else.

i loaded up all of the oversized shamrock glasses, flashing shamrock headbands, enormous dr. seuss style striped hats, and green necklaces and headed straight to the nurses station.  please, please give these things to the other children, i said.  our son doesn't really feel up to it.  the nurses were surprised--and very pleased to go door to door and bring a little silly gift to each of the children.

later that st. patrick's day while i was sitting next to my sleeping boy, i saw a little girl shuffle by our door in the trademark non-slip socks, hospital gown, teeny-tiny pint sized walker....wearing an enormous green and white striped dr.seuss style foam hat and a huge grin!

i couldn't help but be so thankful to my sweet God who knew what we would need (even if we didn't) and knew what the other little children would need as well.  i am thankful that i could be used to bring a little joy to the other children even if it wasn't premeditated.

because of that, i have purposed to bring along something to help ease the suffering of the other children in the hospital each time we are there for more surgery.  there are children, like my own boy, who are in so much pain/discomfort that the only thing they can do is watch a movie.  the hospital has a movie library for them, but they don't often have the most recent movies.  i am going to bring some with us in september to add to their library:)

now, for me, st. patrick's day is a very, very, special day.  one chock full of meaning and lessons learned.

this st. patrick's day, i am so thankful for my son, the surgeries, the hospital, the other children, cards, nurses,  movies, silly little gifts, and the God who is big enough to care for all of us in just the way we need.


Katie @ minivan diva said...

You are always filled with such reflective thoughts. Your gratitude is beautiful.

Christy said...

I'm not sure if I have ever left a comment or not but this brought tears to my eyes. I hate how sometimes I get caught up in my own little world I forget about those that are hurting. What a reminder to think and do for others. Thanks for sharing :)

Megan said...

This is such a beautiful post. You left me in tears. We just had a Mardi Gras parade at work for all the kids in the hospital. Their faces were PRICELESS. I will never forget their smiles!

Kelly said...

Marie I just love you. This made me weep tears of joy. God always knows. He knows! My heart is with you, your family and your little man. I will be praying for his speedy, recovery come September.

Nancy said...

I can't believe it's been a whole year since that first surgery!!! I had never heard this before and am so glad I stopped by your blog tonight:-)

hannah singer said...

miss you! praying for y'all!

danielle @ take heart said...

hi marie! i have some questions about five in a row… could i email you!? :) xoxo