Three years ago today we spent Christmas Day at the side of our daughter Eve’s isolette in the PICU at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. She was 13 days old. It was the first – and likely the only time I will see Santa cry.
People still comment on how horrible that must have been – spending Christmas in the hospital with a sick baby, away from our other children and family. I don’t remember it that way. I remember the exponential gratitude of being there, where Eve was being nurtured and cared for by experts. She was struggling, but she was alive. That’s what mattered. And it was in that spirit of hope that Christmas remains the most sacred of days for us.
Here’s my wish – today and every day: that people recognize the blessing of having access to medical teams that can heal broken hearts. This is reality. In 98 percent of the rest of world, we would have just been another set of grieving parents. Eve would have never survived for 13 days. She would have been gone.
To those sitting in those hospital rooms tonight, we wish you hope, grace and comfort. May your babies come home soon and thrive. To those who know others sitting in hospital rooms tonight, find it in your hearts and in your hectic schedules to GO THERE. Be there for those enduring this journey. We know it’s hard. Sick babies and children are not the things Christmas dreams are made of. In fact, it’s just downright wrong. Anytime. Anywhere. But these families need you. Show up. Be present. Give, if you can.
During that first month, 3 co-workers and less than half a dozen friends visited us there. I understood why, but that didn’t make it any easier. Much of the saving grace came from emails, facebook posts and blog entries. In this community of congenital heart defects, virtual strangers become virtual lifetime friends. We find out how many 1in100′s there are. Perhaps that is the gift of adversity. And it is an amazing thing to behold.