April 22, 2005
Avalon's birthday in the hospital
last page... I promise.
As always, I decorated our audio/visual corner.  The picture on the left also gives
you a glimpse of one of our latest hospital additions.  Below the family pics you can
see a blue box.  The box is a mini-fridge.  Our hospital "kit" now includes a
mini-coffee maker (to keep mom sane) and the mini-fridge to house my coffee
creamer, Avalon's caramel and fruit punch (for medicine time), and food for me.  
When you add in the table and chairs we now bring, in addition to the bag of toys, and
separate bag of clothes...we seriously "move in" whenever we have to go.

In the picture on the right, I want to point out two of our most cherished cards.  On
the left, directly under the Nemo balloon, is a black and yellow card.  Avalon's night
nurse hand made it the night we were admitted.  The entire staff signed it.  To me, it
signifies the gigantic hearts everyone on this floor have.  On the right, close the  
picture of the girls, is a beautiful sparkly fairy card - from one of Avalon's favorite
nurses.    Not only do we love this nurse, but the card illustrates how much these
people are willing to give of themselves to these kids.  They give their hearts to them,
regardless of what it costs them personally.  I admire them more than I can say.
A Birthday Thank
You...
Once upon a time, there was a very sick baby and a very sad mother...

Although the baby had been sick for quite some time, the mother still had never fully gotten used to
the idea.  The mother continued to face each day, and each challenge...because that's what moms
do.  Every time someone would ask her, "How can you do that?",  she never ceased to be amazed.  
The answer was simple - because her baby needed it.  When mothers face adversity, they have no
choice but to rise to it, the decision was removed from them the day they met their child.  

As any mother of any sick child will tell you, life is truly measured in its moments - not its challenges.  
Sick children survive their pain because of what lies beyond it, not because they're immune to it.  
They and their mothers agonize through the necessary...to get to the blessings.  Every moment of
normal life is a blessing, only families with healthy children sometimes miss that.

Our mother was no different than any other mother of a challenged child.  She faced each struggle
with the faith and determination that come with the eternal belief in the universe's decision to grace
her with this child.  If she was blessed enough to be given the opportunity to love this baby, she
certainly wouldn't squander a minute of it by shying away from adversity.  With each new battle, she
would fight the universe with her heart and soul, and thank the powers for allowing her to win...one
more time.

The problem is, that eventually, all warriors become fatigued.  While troops rally strong in the early
stages of a battle, they often tire easily and withdraw to safer territory...where they aren't so
vulnerable.  Mothers don't have that option...tired, broken, and battle-scarred...they have no place to
go except where they are desperately needed.  Sometimes, that place becomes an almost
unbearable reality.  

The odd thing is, the final step before breaking, may seem incredibly insignificant to the outside
world.  Our mother's breaking point came at 11:55 p.m., in an ER isolation room.  The trip to the
hospital was similar to many others she'd made.  The difference was, that at 12:00 a.m. her baby
would be two years old.  Did the baby know it?  Of course not.  It was what the day represented...the
fact that the baby had made it to her second birthday was an event to be celebrated.  Once a child
has faced catastrophic illness, each birthday is a victory against the universe...a time to shout to the
heavens in joy and revelry, "We made it!  We're here!"

As our mom and our baby sat in that quiet room, it seemed that no one was listening.  No amount of
shouting at the cosmos had protected her baby from her diagnosis, and no amount of begging had
allowed the child this one day of freedom from her burdens.  It was as if all of the terror, grief, anger,
and sheer unfairness of the situation was suddenly present in the room, and threatened to envelop
the mother in an unspeakable pain that held her heart fast.  All at once, her fight was gone, and she
found herself at more of a loss than she ever thought possible.   It was truly night, in all of its dark
and forbidding glory...

Sick children have no choice but to face their plight, and their parents have no choice but to fight the
demons.  The choices lie in the hearts of the people that surround them.   On that night, in the
darkness...the actions of the people around our mother and child became the mother's light to guide
her back to her path.  The resident who moved to sit next to her and held her as she sobbed in
defeat.   The ER staff who sang "Happy Birthday" as they transported the baby and returned bearing
gifts and more smiles.  The reserved, dedicated doctor who knealt quietly by the baby's bed at 2:30
in the morning and sang "Happy Birthday" to her.  The nurse who took the time to  hand make a
beautiful card for the entire staff to sign, then quietly left it by the bed, with no fanfare...because
mother and child were exhausted...  These generous souls lit our mother's path, and in their
generosity of spirit, rebuilt a part of the mother's heart that she thought was irreparable.

As morning dawned, more kind souls offered moments of love and grace that translated into pillars of
future strength for the battles ahead.  Complete strangers, people that had never met child or
mother, had sent offerings of love and celebration for the child's birthday.  Poems, prose, drawings,
pictures...heartfelt gifts of hope and devotion, poured in for the child...often from unnamed sources.  
With each tear our mom shed over someone's thoughtful wishes, her heart gained enough strength
for another battle.  With each expression of love and caring offered on her behalf, the child gained
untold blessings for health and happiness.  As medical staff went above and beyond their duties to
wish her joy and happiness that day, our mother and child's world became rosier and more beautiful.
 
As the saying goes,
From the darkest nights come the brightest days...and so they do.  Sometimes,
those nights may need stewards to lead their residents to the light...and the stewards need the
fortitude to offer their services by actively reaching into the night to save a soul.  Our sad mother
and sick child were truly blessed...they found a multitude of people offering to guide them toward the
light.  

To each of you who carried a torch for us...we recognize your gifts...and offer our sincerest gratitude.
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The End
Our Journey:
Avalon's Army of Angels