I will never forget the wounded spirits thrashing about, trapped in yellow gowns. I will never forget the countless children, teens and parents who have mastered the delicate art of crying slow and silent tears. The ones that fall, quickly hidden beneath a mask, in the midst of a painful procedure. The vanishing kind that people may never notice. I will never forget the amazing parents who ache with empathy and would desperately do anything to take it all away. All the hurt. All the pain. All the uncertainty. I will never forget the parents who wished they could go back in time and love differently.
I will never forget all of the beautiful and enormous, curled, and thick eyelashes surrounding the biggest eyes and tiniest bodies. Often clumped together from the tears. I will never forget all of my work routines, cleaning toys, filling the treasure box, meeting new families and the routine honor and privilege of holding a hand, blowing bubbles or soliciting a smile. I will never forget the giggles. Or all of the innocent commentaries as kids think outloud….
“Are you a doctor?”
“Are you a kid?”
“Are you dizzy too?”
“Do you like farting?”
“I will stay with you because we both like laughing”
“Can I call you Banana?”
I will never forget the hugs. The apologies. The wrongfully bruised bodies and the repeatedly banged-up hearts. I will never forget their inspirational, yet unfair resilience. Their hope. Their shouts. “I did it! I didn’t think I could do it, but I did it!” I won’t forget their cries.
I will never forget all of the innocent siblings. There. On the edges. On the floor. In the waiting room. Always. Still somehow so brave. Perhaps feeling invisible through it all. The ones whose skinned up knees and broken bodies will manage to rise above the overwhelming heaps of pain. The ones whose hearts will forever be altered by the accidents, the injuries, the new diagnosis or the devastating loss of a brother or sister or mother or father. Sibling orphaned.
I will never forget the babies. The sweetest, littlest ones. Their mommies and daddies. The grandparents. Beautiful new lives swaddled for the first and last time. The tears. And the excruciating pain of life stolen. I won’t forget the long walks down the halls wondering how you could ever get me to let go, for the last time.
I will never forget the teens who stole my heart as they sat day in and day out hooked up to the dialysis machine that cleaned their blood. The kids whose lives revolved around modified diets, modified social lives, medicine taking, blood draws, and waiting hours on transportation to pick their exhausted bodies up after treatment. I will never forget their constantly changing moods, or their resilience, their smiles, their laughter, and their birthday requests. I will never forget both the excitement and sadness involved in anticipating their transplants as they were granted a chance at a new life.
It’s all quite impossible to forget.
So I will remember. Always.
I will remember the compassionate. The ones constantly sacrificing their hearts, their thoughts, their energy and their lives. The immeasureable amounts of love scattered and woven in the midst of the darkest of places. Everybody running and doing impossibly hard things. The nurses who bent down on their knees and bled with their patients. Time and time again. The doctors who gracefully carried all the knowledge, the responsibility and the weight of another human being’s life on their tired, slouched shoulders. I will always remember the care assistants who stood, time and time again, holding strongly onto a sweet child’s body as they fought their own instincts to cry. I will remember the neverending patience, the overflowing compassion and the grace of the team working together in the most difficult times.
I will always remember that violence, poverty, homelessness, neglect, abuse, orphaned, and unavoidable hurt and pain exist here. Right here. In our city. On a daily basis. I will always look differently and act more sympathetically and compassionately because of my experiences inside these walls. I will judge less and look out more for the broken, the familiar eyes, the ones whose tiny bodies, hearts and minds have witnessed so much of the pain of this world.
I will always remember the beauty of this place. Especially the people that should win the happy emotion lottery everyday for what they endure. I will always remember how they unknowingly brought hope to so many in the midst of some of the worst times. I will always remember how this place has changed my eyes, my mind and my heart. I will always remember the dedication, the loyalty, the comraderie, and the family that will forever be with me. I will remember you. Always.
Because I could never forget you.
It’s impossible to say goodbye. I can’t do it. I keep telling myself that I will see you all again. So, I will say “thank you” instead for all that you’ve taught me and for the hundreds of ways you’ve loved, supported and encouraged me. I will think of you often and pray for you constantly. You do hard things. All the time. I’m so proud to know you. Your moms, dads, spouses, kids, and everybody who can’t witness the work you do would all be so proud of you, if they could see front and center what I’ve gotten to see for all of these years. You’re truly amazing. Real life heroines and heroes. You’re life changers. Please always remember the sacred power that you possess.