Thursday, February 23, 2012

2nd Annual RMH Meal

Yesterday was the second year I've taken the pay-it-forward dinner to the Ronald McDonald House on Ash Wednesday. I vividly remember how much it meant to me to find dinner at the RMH during one of the long days at TCH and I am so very thankful we are in a spot now that we can pay the kindness forward.

Yesterday afternoon as I began preparing the double batch of crawfish etouffee, I was entertained by the antics of Matthew as he opened all of the cabinet doors in the kitchen and rearranged my pots, pans and tupperware.  I just can't believe how far he's come!  And the entire experience yesterday was a big reminder of that.

As I arrived at TCH, I was reminded of our very first trip there, almost 2 years ago, with our 2 day old baby.  I remember walking through that same parking garage, cradling Matthew in my arms, and praying that he would be okay.  Without hesitation yesterday, I hit the "4" on the elevator to take me to the NICU floor, which houses the RMH.  I don't think I'll ever forget how to get there, it was etched in my mind over those original 8 days at TCH. 

As I served dinner to the parents of the children staying at TCH last night, I saw in their faces what must have been in ours in those days and nights.  Exhaustion, fear, resolve, and strength.  And when they asked, I was proud to tell them why I was there last night-- to celebrate my sweet baby Matthew's 2nd birthday.  Someone did this for us when we were here with Matthew, and now that we have come to the other side, we want to do this for you.  And yes, Matthew is doing so very well! 

I heard the stories of their children and their journeys-- the baby girl with a rare disease who has been in the NICU for 4 months with failing kidneys, the 3 week old little boy in the NICU with RSV on a breathing tube, the 4 year old in the PICU recovering from a kidney transplant, the 14 year athlete with cardiomyopathy on the list for a heart transplant.  My heart ached for these children and their parents, who's journeys are different than ours, but we can see a bit of Matthew in them. They share the same nephrologist, or are on the same floor that we've stayed at, or yes, we know how scary it is to see a machine breathing for your child. 

Last year, I left the RMH on a high. It was really a reminder of how we were turning the corner.  And this time, though it reminded me how far we've come, I left with a heavy heart.  Heavy for those parents and those children.  And also reminded that though we've turned a corner, and Matthew is doing so very well right now, we might someday turn another corner.  It might not always be as good as it is now.  I'm very grateful for the right now!

I awoke in the middle of the night with all of this on my mind.  I was thankful to be in my bed, not a RMH bed, or an uncomfortable metal chair in the PICU, or the recliner in the NICU, or the pull out couch on the 15th floor.  I prayed for a long straight away for Matthew and that all of those families at TCH are able to turn the corner very soon.  

God bless the Ronald McDonald House for providing comfort and care for those families in need.  We are thankful for the RMH for giving us those things when we needed them, and thankful they gave me the opportunity last night to pay it forward, albeit in a very small way.

Big pot of etouffee and rice, served with salad, bread and king cake.
Easy to make in bulk, and meatless for Ash Wednesday.

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