WE ARE GRATEFUL
If I could go back and tell my 12-year old self that life that one day, the real version of “let’s play house” would be a reality, and I would be sitting in a beautiful kitchen preparing to have 30 people at my house for Thanksgiving with a new puppy in my lap, a baby asleep in a crib, a 9-year old kicking a ball outside (okay, playing on the iPad, but dreams are fun), and an amazing partner/husband at work, and I’d be happy, like really, really happy, I wouldn’t believe you. At 12, things suuuuuck. You can’t see past tomorrow. You have no idea how things are going to turn out. You always wish you had more. You worry you aren’t good enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. You think everything. Is. The. End. Of. The. World.
I wish I could say that only a few short years later, I snapped out of that “woe is me” teenage angst, and I realized the world wasn’t out to get me and life was actually good, but unfortunately, it lasted a lot longer. Like too long. In fact, here’s the real truth: I think this past year was when I began to count my blessings… When I realized the depth of my fortune, the level of my luck, and the joy that is mine to have if I can just get out of my own way long enough to revel in it.
While I’ve had several “best days” of my life (the birth of my children, our wedding day, a magical boat ride along the Amalfi Coast, etc), as cliché as it may sound, I think it was Oliver’s stay(s) at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles that truly opened my eyes to what luck really is and how blessed I actually am.
This past Mother’s Day, we launched We Are Lucky, a program at CHLA dedicated to helping families of patients OUTSIDE the walls of the hospital. Each year, one in 25 Los Angeles families need the comprehensive care of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for their child. For some children, a quick trip to CHLA is all it takes for healing. But for other more critical or complex cases, the stays can be longer or necessitate repeat trips to the hospital.
For those instances, some moms may be forced to make difficult choices—if they don’t have ready access to child care, they may have to choose between the child that is sick and the children who are well.
Thanks to the help of our incredible family and friends who rallied behind this effort, in one week we met our goal of $25,000 and to date we have raised $34,356!
To hear from the social work department how the funds have directly impacted families has given me even more inspiration and motivation to continue this support. Below is a direct quote from the head of the program:
“We have given out grocery, gas and Target cards to pay for sitters for siblings of patients and provided transportation by train from the hospital so parents can be by their sick child’s bedside or relatives can relieve them while they go to work.
“We have amazing families that face such daunting challenges in addition to their child being sick. These funds are a godsend and have eliminated so much of the additional stress caused by separation from their sick child. Please thank them from the bottom of our hearts for their generosity and for recognizing that not all families have resources to do something as simple as staying by their child’s bedside when they are so sick.”
She went on to tell us that for one family, the funds were used to help a single dad who needed help with train transportation. In his particular case, he needed to take a few hours from the bedside of his own child to help his nephew get ready for his first day of school. His nephew’s mother (his own sister) had passed just a month prior to his own child’s hospitalization and dad had taken on care for the nephew. As a day laborer, he had not worked in a few weeks because of his own child’s admission to CHLA. Because of the #WeAreLucky fund, CHLA was able to help this single father address his nephew’s school needs while minimizing his time away from the bedside of his own child.
This is just one example of the creative ways in which the funds have been used to go above and beyond in helping families address basic needs while their child is in the hospital.
This Thanksgiving, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all of you who made a donation to We are Lucky. Our goal is to continue to do all we can to make a difference for other families that don’t have the resources and support that we have had through this journey… A journey that isn’t over as we head into another surgery on December 9th… Though it’s never easy to walk through those doors at CHLA, I walk in lucky while so many families don’t.
I am grateful beyond measure and wish you and your families a beautiful holiday filled with laughter, health, peace, and stuffing that tastes as good as my Nana’s.
For more information on We Are Lucky, visit CHLA.org/wearelucky.