David came with me on the spur of the moment. We brought a batch of gorgeous quilts from the Fearless Quilters of Rolling Bay Presbyterian, along with a batch of fleece blankets from our dear neighbor, Cami - 28 in all. As we pulled into the driveway, I said to David, "I should have called Carly, and told her we were coming!" Carly is our representative at the Foundation, where Katie's Endowment resides.
The fact is, there are so many staffers within the organization of Seattle Children's Hospital who have touched our lives and blessed us that I would probably need to visit every week in order to see each of them - so I often don't tell anyone when I am coming, and just slip in and out delivering quilts. On this day, I was focused on the photo shoot, thinking we would meet in the reception area, hold the comforters and smile for the camera. Well, serendipity was at work behind the scenes...
We took the comforters to the Volunteer Office, and there was one of my favorite volunteers: Jane Humphries, a.k.a. "The Blanket Lady." Jane volunteers every week, delivering comforters to patients who have been admitted to the hospital. She was loading a cart, and brightened up when she saw the bounty we had brought for her to deliver. We learned that Jane was going to be part of the photo shoot, and that we were going to be allowed to go on the ward and actually GIVE a blanket to a patient. This just doesn't happen anymore, due to HIPAA regulations, so this was a rare treat.
Seattle Children's has a fantastic new facility called "Building Hope." Its design is gorgeous and family-friendly in the most progressive ways, filled with light, beautiful artwork, well-designed, attractive furnishings and comfortably-equipped rooms. It is a wonderful place - that is, if you have to be a patient in a hospital. I had a quick tour a while ago, but David had never seen it. That was our destination for the photo shoot - a nice surprise.
The photographer and manager of Guild Marketing arrived. As we were getting acquainted, Carly walked into the Volunteer Office - serendipity! She and David had never met, so I happily took care of that. She revealed that she was expecting a "special visitor" to tour the hospital with her, and was going to be in the same area as we were. Looking forward to running into them later, we said "goodbye" and prepared to deliver quilts and blankets.
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Once we were admitted to the ward, we noticed a number of the staff who had taken care of Katie were on duty. Many hugs followed, with exclamations of surprise at seeing David, "all grown up." The nurses posed for photos with us around the cart, each one holding a blanket. What a beautiful, full-circle moment that was - to see our comforters in the hands of staff members who have brought such comfort to our family!
There was so much palpable love in the air that I kept saying, "This is the best day ever!" Then I thought about it and said, "Well, this is the best day on the cancer ward." And it got even better...
We were introduced to a lovely young patient who selected a pink fleece blanket with owls on it, and we posed together, with me handing it to her. As our eyes met, and I looked at her sweet mother standing behind her, something deep within me connected with them. I longed to join them in the room and just stay there; of course, that wasn't possible, and I would not have suggested such a thing, but I felt a kinship with them, without words. I have been in their place.
The serendipity continued when we ran into Carly and her "special guest:" it was Macklemore, at the hospital to visit patients. (You may have seen him on Instagram or Facebook in photos at the hospital with Russell Wilson, who visits every.single.week.) Carly invited us over to meet him and his friend, so WE MET MACKLEMORE on the cancer ward! I thanked him for visiting the hospital and told him how much it means to the patients and families. We spoke for a few minutes about the blankets; he has noticed them on his visits. He was so present as we spoke. (He has also been out on the streets at night, without fanfare, with Seattle's Union Gospel Mission - another reason for admiring him.) Oh, serendipity was at work - and David just happened to be along for the ride!
We also had a wonderful visit over lunch with one of our favorite doctors - one who has become a close friend, and who took care of all of us when Katie was in the ICU.
Lying in bed last night, I reflected on the day with overflowing gratitude. My one regret was that I wished I could have done more for that sweet patient and her mother, but I also know that I am living their worst nightmare, so I always - and I mean ALWAYS - stay away from people who are in active treatment, unless they seek me out. I wasn't at the hospital as a chaplain, I was there as a guild president, for a specific purpose, but oh, my heart was there in pastoral care!
What a day, filled with the power of love - of Katie's love for her comforter, our family's love and gratitude, the love of staff and benefactors, our guild member's loving acts of generosity, and the appreciative love of the hospital organization for its guild members. And what is serendipity, anyway - isn't it really LOVE in action?