Yesterday I was sitting in the Children’s Hospital waiting room while my son had some lab work done. As I watched the clock (along with some obnoxious kids program on TV), a family entered the room. They could have been any family in the United States. There was nothing terribly unusual about them–a balding bespectacled father, a slightly heavyset mom, a teenage daughter with an Ipod hanging around her neck, and a red-headed, freckled son who looked like a young Ron Howard. They were the kind of family you might picture living next door, or appearing on a sit com. But here they were in the children’s hospital, sitting across from me.
Every Family Has a Story
They have a story, I thought to myself. Every family in this place did. I had seen couples crying together in the hallway, clearly reeling from bad news about their child. There were parents pulling their children in wagons, each one covered with various bandages, tubes, and medical gadgets. Children’s hospitals are grim places to be. I was surrounded by heartbreak and hope, pain, and yet profound love.
If I wondered about this family’s story, I didn’t have to for long. They were jovial, boisterous, and unafraid to speak their thoughts aloud. I soon gathered that they were all about to have their blood drawn, to find a donor for their sick daughter (and sister), who was waiting elsewhere in the hospital. The little girl needed a kidney transplant, and her family was here lined up for a blood draw to find out who would be the best match. Ideally, one of them would be giving her a kidney within a few days. So you might expect at least a few of them to be staring morosely into space, or wearing desperate, pained expressions. No. They laughed, joked, and smiled together.
Finding Humor Amidst Heartbreak
The red-headed son revealed that this was his twin sister who needed the transplant. Each one then tried to remember the last time he or she had given blood. “I remember the last time I got a shot,” said the boy. “I didn’t cry one bit.” The mother and teen sister instantly gave him an “oh brother” look, and they all laughed. “Okay, I cried a little bit,” he said. His teenage sister then began vividly imitating his wails and sobs. “Well, it hurt,” the boy admitted sheepishly.
“With our luck, you’ll be the donor,” said his mother, and the whole family laughed. Then dad disappeared into the blood draw room, and came back all smiles. “Well, I hope it’s me,” he said.
“I hope it’s ME,” said the teenage sister.
The Purpose of Families
I was touched. This family was faced with a very dire situation and yet they were trying to be upbeat and positive. There was no question that any one of them would gladly give one of their kidneys for the life of this little girl. I never saw this special child, but I imagined what she might look like. Red hair like her twin brother? Brown hair like her older sister? Did she have her father’s nose? Her family’s spunk and humor? What mattered most was that she was deeply loved. And somehow, I knew that this family would survive their crisis. If they could laugh in times of despair, and cling to their hope and love so openly, they could face just about anything.
It struck me that day in the waiting room, that this, above all else, is what families were made for.
Kristyn Crow is the author of this blog. Visit her website by clicking here. Some links on this blog may have been generated by outside sources are not necessarily endorsed by Kristyn Crow.