Friday, September 11, 2009
We wove our way around the parking structure and found a parking place. We grabbed the diaper bag and Pickle and headed to the elevator. This place seemed ominous, but I just tried to put one foot in front of the other. We had prayed the whole way down. There was nothing left to do but go in.
As we stepped on the elevator to the entrance of Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, we saw another family of three. The dark-haired dad was holding his baby girl. She was wearing hot pink leggings, and her face was expressionless. She had puffy cheeks and patches of hair were missing. The hair she did have was dark, thick and curly.
He said, "Hi. How old is your baby?" We told him five months. He asked, "What's her name?" We said Hope. He said "This is Molly. She's five months too." I started to feel the knot in my throat. Hope was being seen for her small stature - she was 8 pounds, 8 ounces at the time. Molly was quite clearly double her size.
He must have seen the panic in my eyes, because this is what he said next: "She's kind of puffy right now from all the drugs. They've been giving her steroids. It takes a while to get out of her system...Don't pay attention to her size." And with that he smiled, and the elevator landed on the first floor. We exited and the family turned to the right and headed toward Molly's doctor. I stopped, and started to cry. Steve put his hand on my arm, and told me lovingly to just relax.
That's when I realized how much courage parents of sick children have to have. It's a requirement. They can't be weak because their children could and would sense it.
We went on to find out that Hope is healthy, just small. But through our journeys to Children's Hospital, we would see these parents - walking toddlers with hospital gowns on. I had never seen such tiny hospital gowns...pushing strollers and oxygen tanks at the same time, carrying children who couldn't walk that day, combing a sweet child's bedhead, or just sitting with them while they took a break from being in their hospital rooms.
These parents are some of the most courageous people I've ever seen. It was hard enough for me to walk into that elevator, but these parents have a different element to them. You can feel their strength. It is amazing. They look tired, but not defeated. They are quiet, calm and there for their children. While I sat in the lobby, I stared...not at the children, but at them. This was their normal.
For those moments before we found out Hope is healthy, I thought it was hard. But I look back at that time and know that I felt only a very small fraction of what parents of sick kids feel. I admire those parents for their strength and calm, their loving care for their children.
Though I am thankful for our daughter's health, I know that I was shown this on purpose. I understand that God wanted me to see and understand that having a small child is small potatoes in comparison to some of the big battles some tiny ones face.
Having known two sets of parents that were in situations that required this kind of strength, I can only say to you: You did wonderfully. And your children will only benefit from your reactions and grace.
And to Molly's dad, I say this: Thank you for choosing to comfort me, when you needed the reassurance. Thank you for taking care of Molly. It's humbling to know that in your situation, you chose to comfort me. I will always remember that gift.