Sometimes the season gets us down. There’s a lot of expectations to make the holidays picture perfect, and a lot of times we just can’t live up to all of that, any of us. And as the end of the year winds down, it’s nice to take stock of the year, see what our successes are, and where we were found wanting.
Brave Fragile Warriors did not have as many posts as last year, my attention was divided and I just didn’t write as much. The first year, I was determined to write once a week, but I realized not many people want to read a once-a-week-post, so I wrote instead when the spirit moved me. Hopefully that means that my posts were richer and more meaningful. Hey, a girl can hope, right? When I look at the analytics, it was viewed in 70 countries around the world. That’s pretty cool. I was also contacted to reprint my posts in Today’s Kids In Motion, and The World Transplant Games asked if they could put my blog post in their newsletter (note: the link is to a PDF). Probably the biggest part was that one of the blog posts is now in the chapter of a book, The Power of Moments, by the Heath Brothers. These are huge honors and I feel really lucky that these stories are getting out there.
I did a lot more public speaking this year than I ever expected to (outside of my classroom, of course.) Topics ranged from the importance of telling your story, to helping to minimize anxiety in an Emergency Room Setting, to creating partnerships within the hospital between patients and providers, and what it looks like to be the parent of a sick kid. All of these topics are near and dear to my heart, but honestly, public speaking is not my favorite thing in the world.
I also spent a lot of time, both on the blog and in person, advocating for the health care of children. It’s so important to speak up for kids who are sick, and for their parents who are in crisis. For the first time ever, I wrote to my congressional representatives, and I even traveled to their offices to speak to their staffers. I wrote a letter for STAT news that was published about the necessity of the Affordable Care Act for kids like my Wendy. I worry about funding for CHIP that will only last through March, and I will keep fighting for funding for those kids as well.
I got to do one of my favorite things the other day, which was wrap presents for parents who have kids in the hospital for Christmas. There are a number of charities that buy presents throughout the year and bring them all in to Massachusetts General Hospital so parents can “shop” for their sick kids and then we get to wrap the presents for them. In fact, Brave Fragile Warriors was inspired because of this event a few years ago. I love it because it’s easy, right? I go in and wrap presents. But the parents, who have had their kids in the hospital for who knows how long and who are in total crisis mode, are so grateful. It’s one less thing to worry about. There were two sets of twins at the hospital, each with older siblings at home. One mom had a pile of knit hats, that she added along with her toys for her son who was going through chemotherapy and had lost his hair. One mom separated her gifts for each child so that she had something to give to each of them. One mom was telling me that the Christmas Tree was still tied to the top of the car since last week because they had to go straight to the Emergency Room and hadn’t left the hospital since. Think about that for a minute. It made all of my crises seem rather small in comparison to twins in the hospital and a tree still tied to a car.
It’s too late for a lot of us to help kids and their families in crisis right now, this year, in person. But I would suggest finding a charity to donate to, for kids, and you’ll feel better, even if your holiday isn’t going so well right now. If you don’t have a favorite children’s charity, then I would suggest the Make A Wish Foundation. They give kids with life threatening illnesses the chance to make one wish. Whether it is to meet a personal hero, or to take a special trip, or to have a certain event. When Wendy had her Make A Wish, she chose to go on a Disney Cruise, and I can honestly say, it was one of our first steps toward healing and feeling like a family again. Other kids choose to swim with dolphins, or to be Batman for a day. You get the idea. For Wendy it was a big boat with a pool and water slide, and Mickey too.
Happy Holidays to you and yours. Celebrate the season together. Make good resolutions. Rediscover gratitude. Lend a helping hand to those who need it.
These are my last minute wishes for you.