I pulled into the parking garage ready to donate and wishing I had some extra time to pass out stickers to the sick children...anything to brighten their day.
But the second I walked into the lobby, I was struck in the gut with intense pain, fear and anxiety. The sirens outside, the wheelchairs, the oxygen tubes, the parents tending to their sick little ones, Children's Hospital was more than I could handle.
But I was there on a mission...to donate blood for a friend whose daughter is having heart surgery on the 13th, and I was determined to push forward.
Sitting in the waiting room, reading my study material for my church's life group (learning how to tear down all of my walls, be radically honest with myself and tear open my heart for God to look at and work on), it was there that the tears started to pool up. Several donors around me answered questions of why they were there to other inquisitive donors...
my best friend's niece has brain tumors, and she isn't doing great.
My sister's kid is having issues. I'll do anything I can to help.
And I think, I am so lucky. My kids are so healthy. I get so impatient sometimes but they are perfect. I do my best never to take them for granted, but when this despair is around you, it's impossible not to bow down to God in humility and gratitude.
It's my turn to go in and I know I have the same blood type, but only wonder if I have the right matching antibodies. Little do I know going in that my iron count has to be 12, and it falls short with an 11. She thanks me for coming all this way, but it wasn't meant to be.
I hold all of the emotion in until I get to my car, where the tears come rushing down. It's there in the hospital parking lot that I feel free to cry, face buried in my hands, knowing there have been many others who broke down in that very space. I wish I could help. I wish I could do more. If not for my friend's daughter, then for any kid in that hospital.
I pulled myself together so that the tears didn't blur my vision while driving, and as I left the parking lot, a medical transport helicopter was landing on the hospital roof. I wondered about the parent who is facing the heartbreak of their lifetime right now, and I felt such agony for that stranger. I cried all the way back to work.
I feel ripped open and raw. It hurts.