So again, I beg for help... and keep in mind, I could make you famous with my research paper and oral presentation (where I have to be all crafty and give handouts and use visual aids and stuff) for this class. I mean FAMOUS. Not bloggyland "Oh I mentioned your name" kind of stuff. We are talking royalties beyond our wildest dreams and book publications and public speaking opportunities and traveling and everything. Ok - that's all a lie, but I sure could use some personal experience stories to include in my paper.
This is the RMCH (Ronald McDonald Charity House) where we stayed in Ft. Worth. Yep - we were there for two weeks and let me tell you, there is nothing more amazing and awe-strikingly beautiful that I've experienced in my life. Since my stay at RMCH I've urged people if there is any charity in the world worth giving to, it would be there. An amazing experience.
Set aside the fact that my daughter, only 12 at the time who had dealt with a seizure disorder all her life, was in Cook Children's Hospital in Ft. Worth undergoing brain surgery. Set aside the fact that her TWO scheduled brain surgeries turned into THREE. Set aside the fact that by brain surgery, I mean cutting out a chunk of deformed brain cells in multiple spots and we wouldn't know if she was going to have neurological deficits like loss of speech, loss of motor skills, etc., until it was all over. Set aside the fact that Ft. Worth is the closest place (4 hours from my home in Oklahoma) that had a pediatric epileptologist and pediatric neurosurgeon available. Set aside the fact that we didn't know anyone in Ft. Worth where we could stay and 2 weeks at a hotel wasn't in the budget, plus meals and transportation and every other minor detail that you run across while out of town. And set aside all the anxiety, tears, worry, more tears, surgery after surgery after surgery, test after test after test, and everything else you might imagine would be involved in sending your child "under the knife".
Why set that aside? Because after staying at RCMH I realized I was one of the few mothers who would be allowed to take her child home in just a couple short weeks. I was the minority.
The families at this place were amazing. The staff was amazing. They have a full kitchen loaded down with food that is all FREE. They have a game room, a quiet room, a library, laundry facilities, WiFi and a computer with printer available for use in the lobby, a patio with picnic tables and a playground area for kids... and half the nights there was a local business catering supper. All FREE. Each family has their own bedroom, kind of like a hotel, only no maid. We had a TV, bathroom, dresser, two full size beds and a walk-in closet. All they ask in return is a donation -- whatever you can afford. The lady told me that some people pay $25 a night, some pay $10 a night, and some aren't able to make a donation at all.
I'm not a people person, and during the time I wasn't in the hospital room with Nisha, I walked over to RMCH to shower, change, clear my head and get some work done. I brought the laptop with me so I could work. While sitting on the patio pounding away on the laptop I overheard several of the conversations. One lady was there from another state with her son who had leukemia. She comes in once every couple of months and stays for a few weeks while he gets treatment, but this time his prognosis wasn't so good and she didn't think he was going to make it. Another lady, from some rural town in Texas, had her husband and another child at the RMCH while her terminally ill daughter was never going to make it out of the cancer ward. They were there to watch their daughter die. Another mother was there with her small, previously healthy toddler who suffered a traumatic brain injury and she would be wheeling her child out, never to walk or talk again. These stories just poured out of these ladies. They had all become family, a support system for each other. I stood back in awe.
I felt guilty. I didn't want to share my story with these ladies, even though they were looking at me, eyes wide with curiosity, to see if I was in their boat. I couldn't even say anything. I silently prayed for them and their children and left the table. How could I be so naive? How could I just walk around that place depressed and angry, like my world was crashing down around me, when I would get to take my baby girl home???
So -- here's my question for the peeps of the world:
Have you ever had the opportunity to stay at a RMCH or volunteer there?
Please share your story with me by email or on this post.