Last night, our family had the privilege of making dinner for families staying at a local Ronald McDonald house. Our motive was to give back to families that have children in the hospital and the organization that once hosted our family. Dinner went off quite well, with us arriving an hour ahead of time to unload and finish prepping dinner. Setting up a taco bar for the families, we laughed and joked, enjoying each step of the process. Many times during the course of the evening, I was reminded of what a wonderful group of people I have the honor of working with at the theater. I also realized, yet again, how incredibly blessed I am to be surrounded and loved by a supportive and amazing family (thanks to my Mom, hubby, and Chris).
As we began to serve dinner, one of the mothers entered the kitchen. As she filled her plate she asked many questions about our group and thanked us for providing dinner. During the course of the conversation, I mentioned that my husband and I stayed at a Ronald McDonald house while our son was undergoing heart surgery. The woman stated her child had recently undergone heart surgery and was still recovering. As I sat to enjoy my plate of food with our group, I noticed the woman sitting by herself. I left my group and asked if I could join her. After a lengthy discussion, we discovered that not only do our children share the same heart defect, but we live within 5 minutes of each other. This mother was grieving for her child's broken heart, unsure of the her baby's future, and relieved to talk to another parent who had been in her shoes. I remember so vividly and painfully what it felt like to be at the beginning of that process, unsure, uncertain, scared. There was visible relief on her face when I shared our family's story with her and explained that our son is a happy, healthy 7 yr old with no limitations, he just happened to have been born with a heart defect.
By the end of the evening, we had exchanged phone numbers and she had a new found perspective and hope. My heart felt full knowing that I had given her hope, just as someone had done the same for me years ago. I went into the evening expecting to feed families and left feeling full myself. It was quite the experience and restored my faith that the path my life has taken is the one I am meant to be on. I know that I can help families who are struggling, not only by taking care of their children as a nurse, but also by reaching out and sharing my story.