To say that today was draining is an understatement. I don't know how to adjust back to "normal" life after visiting a place like St. Jude's. I saw a lot and heard a lot and felt a lot today, but more than anything else, I was really humbled by the realization that I work for an organization that goes far beyond any other of it's kind in supporting St. Jude.
The things that have been accomplished - seriously, the lives that have been saved - in three years time is outrageous. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I am abstractly part of an organization that is so passionate about such a cause.
We have an entire patient care floor at St. Jude, which cares for the sickest of the sick kids. It was interesting - I sort of expected kids and their parents to be running around in some sort of panic - freaking out and in crisis mode - pure pandemonium. That is how I would most likely behave. But part of the awesomeness of St. Jude is that they allow for patients and their families to really settle in, and they make living with this horrific experience as normal as possible. We walked around the hospital; around our floor and I saw evidence of us everywhere. Right in the middle of the A.L.L. fighters and their parents, right in the middle of what aided them in their quest to normalcy - there we were.
The image of those bald little smiling faces will forever be burned into my memory. I teared up most often through the morning, thinking of my own siblings & little nieces and how beyond blessed I am that they are healthy. I will never understand the gracious and merciful hand of God on our family as all soon-to-be 13 of us are incredibly healthy. How many of our headaches never materialized into anything more? How many of our bruises healed up just fine? How many of our sores healed up? Every single one.
I am beyond awed.
Another part of our visit included touring the Target house, which is a residence for families who have a child receiving treatment that requires longer than a two month stay. The nature of my job had me critiquing every new interior aspect in the building, but I was more astounded by the thought that is put into the needs of these families as this house is operated.
A common theme throughout the Target House is elephants. For several reasons: they are said to be good luck, they never forget, they always know the ones they love and stick with them,etc... You are greeted by a fountain of them at the entrance of the house, and they sprinkle every room of the house.
Celebrities have drawn or colored these cartoon elephants that serve as art for a portion of the house. There are tons of the same template elephant, colored and decorated by everyone from Katherine Heigl & Josh Kelley to Oprah to Barbara Bush to Tony Bennett. My FAVORITE, of course, didn't need to use the template, but creatively drew his own elephant...
It was a wonderful experience. If you EVER get the chance to tour or visit St. Jude - please, please do it.
I had the (much needed) opportunity to reflect on my visit during a two and a half hour drive out of Memphis. I didn't know I'd need the time to debrief, but I am so grateful to have had it. I thought about a lot of things, and the overflow of my gratitude quickly turned elsewhere. I am learning to really appreciate and enjoy the times I have in the car from place to place. Good tunes & me and my thoughts -