And went to All Children’s Hospital (ACH) today. It’s been 4 1/2 years since we have been there, and figured it was time since we are starting our PureHeart Foundation and we needed to make connections there again.
Martin had an appointment with immigration today, we have to do this every 10 years. Yup! I married an alien, minus the green skin and antennas! The immigration office is in Tampa and we had to pass by the exit for All Children’s Hospital. We twitch a little every time we have to go by that exit. On the way back from immigration, we said we would stop by ACH since we got out so early from his appointment. As we got closer to the exit we both were having second thoughts, “are we ready for this?” “Are we going to be able to handle this?” But we’re not ones to back down from an uncomfortable situation.
I almost went passed the exit thinking we could do this another time, but I felt strongly guided that we needed to go, so I nervously made the turn onto Exit 22. I know, right? There’s that 22 again. I couldn’t believe how unfamiliar it felt trying to get there. I wasn’t sure which street to take. I know the hospital is new but it is on the same street as the old one. I was kind of surprised how much I didn’t remember about how the streets ran. I finally found a spot to park hoping I’d remember how to get out of there because it’s all one ways.
When we got in the lobby of ACH, I had to take a deep breath because I could feel the tears wanting to come. I could feel my insides starting to tremble at the thought of being here again. I was fascinated by this. I can’t even imagine how it would have been if we had gone to the old hospital, seeing Andrew’s old rooms and all. Not sure I would have kept my composure. I wasn’t sure if I was going to if I saw one of our fav nurses right away. Well, it took a bit of time to find anyone we knew anyway. We were eased into it thankfully.
First we met up with Ellen, we didn’t have her as a nurse too much, but I remembered her, and she eventually remembered us. I don’t expect the ones we didn’t interact with much to remember us after 4 1/2 yrs, they see so many kids. All we have to say is Andrew Jordan’s parents and the light bulb goes on. Andrew definitely left an impression.
We saw Jean, the one nurse that Andrew asked me if he stuttered, after she left his room because she asked him how he was, and he said AWESOME! And Jean told him that he didn’t have to say that if he didn’t mean it. He was quite upset that she would question him! LOL I’m sure it’s hard for a lot of people to believe that any kid could be that happy and positive on his own while going through aggressive leukemia treatment. But that was all him baby! He was the one teaching us how to be that way then and still is now!
Eventually we saw nurse Shawn. You remember? Our first day on the second floor we had the Nurse Shawn and Dawn show? LOL He is a case manager now, Dawn is now working in the Sickle Cell office across from the hospital, and was out sick or we would have gone over. When Shawn saw us he started laughing & came towards us and gave us big hugs! It felt so good to hug someone that was in the trenches with us. Soon after, Pastor Dave showed up with a pleasantly surprised shocked look on his face. Great hugs ensued again. I know these people have to set boundaries in order to do their job well, but they meant the world to us because they were right there with us in the trenches going through the toughest time in our lives. It felt good to connect with even a few of them again. I’m not gonna lie, it was bittersweet.
Shawn showed me where the old hospital WAS! They knocked it down 6 months ago, they are putting a park there. He also showed me the view of Tampa Bay you can see from the 7th floor that is the leukemia ward now. Each child has their own room now and I am happy to say I didn’t see a lot of kids! I wish we could have been at that hospital instead! I remember saying to Andrew while we were there,”Dude! Seriously? You couldn’t have waited a year or so for all of this? We could have our own room in the new hospital if you could have of just waited!” We both laughed.
I spent most of my time talking with Shawn sharing our fav funny Andrew stories. Martin spent most of his time talking with Dave. I joined Martin and Dave after awhile because Shawn had to get back to work. It was a beautiful time with both of them, but there was a real emotional moment with Dave. Shawn told me how much courage it took for us to come back there. He said he wouldn’t ever come back if he had to deal with what we did. I really didn’t think about it that way, but I guess it did take a lot of courage considering it wasn’t an easy decision to go back.
Dave took a moment to thank us for staying together because he has seen how a trauma like this not only breaks up marriages but also breaks down people. It genuinely brought him joy to see that we were still going strong. It brought tears to his eyes. Just knowing that even Martin and I still being together has made a difference in someone’s life makes us feel good. Like what we do really does matter. You just never know how you will effect someone. It’s usually in the smallest of things that have the biggest effects.
We had to say our goodbyes since Shawn and Dave had to get back to work. There was a part of me that didn’t want to leave, I know! Ironic huh? I instead wanted to hunt down more people we knew since we were already there, but we needed to go. Martin and I are glad we went. It was very healing and did bring me a peace to me as Andrew’s 21st birthday is upon us.
So we bit the bullet and took another layer off of our grieving process. And because we did…
IT’S ALL GOOD!