I type this blog sitting next to a certain hospital bed while having flashbacks. The wrinkles upon my cheeks hint at slices of aging since it all began. The environment here shows no glimpses of maturation. Time has stood still even through all these years. The swirling cries of children being stuck by needles, the looks of horror on the faces of newly inducted parents to this unfair world, and even the sudden emptiness within the room next door which on the previous day had grasping life contained therein; are all too familiar. After fifteen years of living as a hospital family, it still at times can kick your ass.
Two collages on the wall can hardly be missed while passing through the threshold of 10 south at Boston Children’s Hospital. There, tender images of small heroes stare through you upon entering. Each face tells a unique story captured behind their innocent eyes. A wall full of children who were dealt the hand of unfairness for no other reason to attribute their fate, than timing. Are they there to inspire, or to remind us? For years I have pondered this question while hurrying down towards the nurse’s station before seeing my boy.
Petrified generations fill the elevators, dining halls, and patient rooms. Forlorn eyes stare ahead while the rest of the body shuffles down the corridor here seemingly with no place to go for answers. A child shrieks in pain three rooms down while I tap these keys. Praying to receive some hint of mercy, heads shake back and forth. The parents are helpless, and they know it. It just isn’t natural. For a dozen years and three, I have witnessed the same. If you possess a soul, you never toughen; these are kids. I have experienced the bleaker side of misfortune since forever here with my child. Nothing has changed, only the names attached to those who continue to fight hard while suffering.
It seems so tragic all over again, for parents to reckon their own child’s fateful situation. A week before the most meaningful evening of the year these thoughts compound. Walking the halls, one can feel the “why us” sense of misfortune permeating. So many broken babies, young children, and youths will call this place home through the holidays and beyond. For some, it could become their last stop, never to return home again. For those parents, only a miracle this season will do. My heart pumps sympathetic blood as I try and reconvince myself there is still hope for these families. I have been there.
For the new downtrodden souls around me needing an overt nudge of how the power of positivity can alter the course of events, the next time you enter through the doors on 10 south, gaze upon that wall to your right as I had done. Consider deeply those tiny faces before you. They are as good a reminder as any; to remain strong.
As a guy who makes a living on stages trying to inspire others, writes blogs sharing his thoughts and reflections, and has spent the last decade crafting books about his journey; the disparate balance of happiness to sadness forces me to pause now and then. All that glitters still is never composed of the gold lining for which we suppose. When you professionally trade in the positivity spaces, periodically you still are forced by chance to keep a proper emotional balance by stumbling just a bit to stay on track. I guess returning was my wake-up.
We have been back a hundred million times since the beginning of it all, but for some reason, this experience feels uniquely unfamiliar in some ways too. I have learned to look at the value of life differently. To try and still possess some positivity amidst this darkness. To better understand the fight, and the will required just to make it through another day here. Maybe in a bigger picture, it is why we were brought back. To appreciate every second afforded by our life-gift had we begun to take it for granted with our son. I have quickly come to reality, no worries there.
In the new year, be mindful of your good fortune, and how precious life is. Never take it for granted, even if it does become a bit prickly at times. One only needs to visit here to be grounded.
For those hopeless parents who plan on wishing to the Boston skyline for a miracle on the evening of December 24, I offer you this:
Look for an image toward the bottom left side of that collage. A certain two-year-old little boy is sitting up while wearing a white collared shirt in the picture. His name is Kaden; he is a fighter. And he is proof that angels DO listen for those kinds of requests here.
Know too, there is still plenty of space left for more photos.