Friday, May 23, 2014

Like Home

I went back to the hospital on Thursday.

It was 160 days since the last time I'd been there, that terrible last day of Sam's life.

I didn't know what it would feel like to walk into that building, that place where we had spent so much time. I was so very apprehensive, I was nervous and scared.

I walked in through the revolving door, the revolving door that Sammy so enjoyed.
The lobby looked....the same.
It felt the same.
It felt....normal.

The thing that felt so hard? Reaching down for Sammy's hand.

And it wasn't there. 

In this space that was so filled, for me, with his presence....I felt him. And I missed him. Desperately.

The hospital became our community for the 18 months of Sam's cancer journey. We made friends with nurses and doctors, teachers and art therapists, greeters and chaplains and physical therapists and  physicians assistants and ....everyone. There were so many other patient families, so many other kids and parents. So many people... in an odd way, we miss them all.

I went to the hospital for the purpose of participating in the hospital's major fundraising radio-thon. Patients and families share their stories in the hopes of raising money for the amazing care that we received throughout all of our experience. How could I say no? (And to those of you who sent gift cards so that I could deliver on your behalf, thank you. Over 40 gift cards were given to the HOT unit to help out those families.)

I was so unbelievably touched to see how many of the hospital staff members came to support me. You can see in this picture (below, behind me) just a few of them, but I could see how many more there were as our time on the radio went on. I couldn't look back, I knew that I would break down. I had to look forward (which I'm sure is why the room is set up like that!) and focus on Dave and Carole as they spoke. It felt as though these incredible people who had spent so much of their energy trying to save our they were directing all of that energy toward lifting me up and helping me to tell our story. I'm not sure that I said enough on the radio about how much they all meant to me, to our whole family. I'm not sure that I can ever say enough.  (And of course, Dr. M, who joined me for the interview and whose strength helped me to get through it....thank you.)

Thanks to the Dave and Carole Facebook page for this picture.

To walk those halls, to spend time again in those spaces that Sammy inhabited with so much didn't hit me nearly as much until I was almost home...but oh, how he would have loved to be on the radio. Oh, how he would have loved to check out the microphones and he would have been their darling. Oh, what a great interview he would have given to them. Oh, how I wish I could have shared this with him...

They say you can't go home again...but going back to the hospital did feel like a home-going. If home is a place of love, then that is where I went.

Pictures of Sam in the hospital lobby in various stages of treatment....
One of Sam's "day pass" trips after BMT
Of course you play catch in the lobby?! With Uncle Josh.

Discussing Zeyde's knee replacement surgery. Solly has worn this t-shirt this week.
In the Healing Garden. I could see it from the lobby but I couldn't bring myself to go out there.
Oh how we loved the fish tank. 

Where's Sammy....Yep.

Apparently, there are still googly eyes in the hospital...maybe not these ones...but in the clinic....!
If you are so inclined, donate to the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Miracle Marathon here.
With gratitude to Dave and Carole for the work they do on behalf of the hospital.

Updated: You can hear the packaged version of my interview here:


  1. This post brings tears to my eyes.

    It's funny how the hospital came to feel familiar to me, too, even as a reader -- I came to be able to picture the places you described and photographed, and to feel that they were familiar, even though I live far away.

    Sammy would have loved the radio show, for sure.

  2. I remember the marathon with Dave and Carol when we lived in Fox Point. I worked at the VNA home care and hospice where we cared for many of the children in their homes. You were so courageous to go back and your words bring reality to the fact that not all children survive. I have great admiration for you and your family as you face this tremendous loss every day yet still find happiness and joy in each other.

  3. Wherever you are, Sammy's at home, opening more doors, broadcasting love, healing on the way. I reach for his hand, you grasp it.

  4. I'll be thinking of you all when we make our monthly trip to CHW for my daughter this week. As always, thank you for writing and for sharing Sammy with us. His legacy is making a huge impact on the hospital already. I know he's smiling about how much he's helping!