After lunch, we went to the hospital. I expected it to be harder than it was, but somehow it just wasn’t all that painful. Part of that is because the places we saw were not filled with memories of Samantha, just memories of waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more. We really only saw the waiting rooms on the 9th and 10th floors. But I did notice something – details that I had previously missed jumped out at me. Little things, but weirdly stuff I hadn’t noticed before. Like the frames around the elevators – did they always have the multi-colored flecks? I’m sure they did and I just never saw it. But when your mind is filled with worry, how can you even notice color? And the parking garage – granted, I didn’t do much driving, and when I did it was a different garage that I used – did it always have the color-coded levels? Travis said yes when I asked him. I just didn’t notice until now. Perhaps I only saw in black and white when Samantha was sick.
We had brought things to leave at the hospital as well. We first went to the 9th floor, where we had stayed in the Ronald McDonald House and Samantha was in the ICU. The woman at the desk remembered us. We had brought a few bags of toiletries, mostly collected from hotels but a few full-sized ones as well. One of the advantages of staying in that place was that they stocked the bathrooms with soap, shampoo, and also put together goody bags with toothbrushes, deodorant, and any other needed things. We knew what a blessing it was for us, and we had intentionally saved items from our travels to bring back to them.
After leaving the items at the desk (volunteers for RMH are only there during certain times and when they are, are often busy), we headed up to the 10th floor and told the woman at that desk that we were there to see Leigh Ann with Child Life. She looked up the number and called her, asking for our names. After giving them to her, Travis said, “Just tell her, ‘Code Peanutbutter Ball.'” The poor confused woman did as instructed, then told us she was on her way.
Leigh Ann came with smiles and hugs, asking what we were doing there. We had brought the car seat bed and a bunch of hospital blankets back. The bed was designed for babies to lay flat in the car and had been loaned to us by someone at the hospital (we still don’t know who it belongs to, we only know that one of the doctors came into the room with it on the day we left). We chatted with Leigh Ann for a bit, and even saw a couple of the nurses who had cared for our sweet little girl. What a gift that was! In fact, it was the nurses who reminded me that I need to keep blogging. So I am – thank you for telling me you still read this!
Everyone at the hospital was clearly busy, so we didn’t stay long. Other parents are living through similar painful experiences to ours right now. Other parents are needing their care and support. While our feelings made us think that we were alone during the whole time, we were not. We still are not. Lots of families sadly go through things similar to us. And we are so grateful that there are doctors, nurses, and other staff who are working tirelessly to care for the children and parents who need them most.
We left, with one more stop to make. And while this stop was filled with fewer memories, it was the reason we had come to Houston that day in the first place.