Friday, October 31, 2008

A Badge of Honor

This is a Parent Badge.  You only get one of these if you have a child sick enough to be sent to Children's Hospital in Seattle.  This is a badge of honor.  When you walk the halls, and you see another person wearing this badge, you know that this person is not here because they want to be here.  They are there because they have to be here to be by their child's side through a very difficult and trying time.

Parents of these children are hurting and lonely.  They are praying for their children to make it.  The children they are praying for are hurting and sick.  Some have lost their hair, others have lost their hand or foot, others still look "normal" on the outside, but are very sick on the inside.  Still others will never be "normal" again, or ever were "normal".  But each of these children have been and are blessings to their parents and blessed to have parents who stick by their side through thick and thin.

Parents who wear this badge and stick it out smile at each other in the halls, and say nice things to eachother, because "they know" - it's like the wave that motocycle riders give each other.  We have been initiated into a fraternaty we didn't want to belong to, but are now a member of, and each of us knows that the others are here for the same reason - our love of our children.

We cheer when we see them going home - worn out parents carrying lots of luggage and wearing a big smile.

We feel for those who get off on the 4th floor -because we've been there (the ICU floor) and know that getting off on that floor means your child is really sick.  It also means sleeping in "the cave" and not being able to be with your child and your family at the same time.  It means loneliness and constant care.  It means watching your child endure countless painful procedures.  It means forgetting everything else in the world and concentrating on living moment by moment.

I'm so glad to be home, but I know there's still hundreds of parents still having to wear that badge of honor everyday - some have been wearing it for years, and some just started today.  I pray that each of them will soon enjoy the thrill of taking their child home with them once again and find the challenge of creating a new normal for their family!

I wanted to write this before we left the hospital - was creating it in my head everytime I walked the halls - but couldn't find the time, so here it is now.  I hope you can step into our shoes for today and say a prayer for all the parents, children, and care givers today at Children's Hospital.


  1. You couldn't have said it more beautifully. That was very touching.
    When I volunteered there it was amazing to see the level of care, concern and dedication of the staff. The whole environment is wonderful too, with the murals and decorations.
    Love you sis'♥

  2. Yes, Ruth, I remember vividly and understand. Back when Chris was there, we didn't get badges-things have changed so much. It will be 18 years in January, but there are moments close to those dates I look at him and can't believe God gave him to us twice. He wasn't expected to live. Coming home isn't always much easier. Hang in there, girl. What a beautiful baby God has given you. Love, Marie

  3. Ruth and Esther,

    You have no idea how happy we are that you are doing so well. It is impressive that Esther has made such rapid weight gains! Quincy and I were able to leave Children's the Friday after you both left. We have been home a week and a half and Quincy has put on almost a pound. She is thriving just like any other kid. She is still on the NG tube, but she is taking the majority of her feeds via bottle now.

    I really like the reflection about the badge of honor, and it is true. It is a special group that no one really expects to be nor wants to be part of. It is hard to have a sick kid, but then add on the stress of not having friends or family nearby and the problem is compounded. I am glad to have shared my experience with you and your daughter. You were a wonderful roommate and I am a better person for having met you :)


  4. Yes! Wonderful reflection. I have the honour of owning three badges, but not because of extraordinary heroism, but because I was ALWAYS leaving my badge either in the car or at Ronald McDonald house, or something where I couldn't locate it in my son's room. My friend, Valerie Maples, sent me your link. We're a B'ham family! We'll be at Children's on December 30th and January 5th for appointments and I hope to be able to connect with you. I'd love to meet sweet Esther.

    Blessings, Jennifer Armerding
    mother to Malcolm, Dana, Kenzie, Hannah Joy, and Tobias