When I try to understand the reasons behind the rough times, I can only think of my grandma. I have never met someone braver than her. She took care of three of her kids until their last day; one of them was my mother, who passed away when she was only 41 years old. She also took care of her ill brother and my grandfather, before he passed away suddenly from a heart attack.
The children in my family grew up in different ways than other typical kids. We faced loss, illness, and financial trouble caused by those circumstances. We were all affected by these experiences in different ways; we became less or more sensitive people; some of us matured earlier and some of us never grew up. We learned to live with anger or acceptance, and at the end we never were able to answer the question we all asked: Why do we have to face rough times in our lives?
On Thanksgiving eve, I woke up to Emir’s cough. In a couple of minutes, Emir was choking. The regular emergency asthma treatment didn’t work at all. We ran to the hospital, where he was admitted immediately. After almost an hour, Emir was still struggling to breathe by himself. It took a long time to stabilize him. He was sent to the ICU. Around 3 am, he looked at me with those big blue eyes and asked for scrambles eggs for breakfast. With tears in my eyes, I promised him he would get them as soon as he woke up.
Around 8 in the morning he got his breakfast tray. To our surprise, he only got a chicken broth soup and some crackers. He was disappointed and went back to sleep. I explained to the doctor how important it is for him to have the stuff he likes in these situations. In a half hour, another tray came to his table. He woke up to the smell of the eggs and bacon. Still breathing with difficulty, he found the strength to eat the whole plate and to thank everyone for the surprise.
The doctor let us leave the hospital after understanding how important it is for Emir to enjoy special times with family, and after hearing how hard he had worked on preparing our Thanksgiving dinner. Emir was already stable and his lungs were completely clear. The doctor let us go with a list of medications, treatment instructions, and some safety recommendations. He asked us to hurry back to the hospital if Emir wasn’t feeling good.
Emir left the hospital accompanied by the nurse, one teddy bear, a dinosaur, and a beautiful handmade blanket. All these presents were donations from wonderful people who never forget the gift of hope for those who have to spend their holidays at the hospital, facing rough times.
Walking through the hallways, I couldn’t help myself from looking at the families who were behind those windows. Kids of all ages and races. Some of them breathing through oxygen machines, some others completely isolated. Parents sleeping at their feet. Families whose only hope is the love they have for their children.
When we got home, I looked at Emir sitting at the table enjoying his turkey. I felt thankful for being able to watch him breathe by himself. For the food on our table. For the family that is mostly far from us, but was close that day. Thanks Salma, María, Enrique, and Ferdi. For the love of my daughter for my son, and his for her. For the love that keeps us together.
We got into the car after picking up some medications. When I looked at the back seat, Emir and Ayelen were holding hands. Emir told her how much he missed her, and how much he loved her. She told him, “I love you too, Emir.”
At that moment, I found a new reason for feeling thankful. For having two children who have no limits on the spiritual level. They may have challenges when it comes to talking or learning, but not for loving. There are things that don’t need to be explained to them; their souls are always a step ahead.
When we got home, I didn’t want to go to sleep without understanding the reason for the rough times in our lives, but I may never get a clear response to it. But besides the feeling of being helpless to change the circumstances and the difficult situations that are still to come, I realized that rough times have the power to bring us back to reality and to the things that are really important. When we are blessed with love, we have a reason to keep going. It doesn’t matter if it comes hidden under a plate of scrambled eggs or a piece of turkey.
There are always reasons to be thankful after the rough times. For those who make a positive difference in our lives, for the person who cooked the scrambled eggs for Emir, for the lady who brought them to him with a smile, for her searching every corner of the hospital for syrup for his pancakes. For the nurses, for the doctors, for the volunteers. For that well-known couple who, even after losing their own son at the hospital, are still bringing joy and hope to families through their donations of teddy bears for every child that visits the Children´s Hospital.
Emir is feeling much better today. He is still recovering, but he’s already dreaming of playing in his backyard playground.
I didn’t want to let this experience pass without saying thank you to all those who sent us emails, texts, hope, love and good wishes through our social media pages. And I want to especially express my gratitude to the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, for always making a positive difference in the lives of my children and my family, and the lives of many others sick kids and their families who arrive through the emergency room to find much more that medications and treatments, but real support, friendship and honest love.
There will be always rough times, but there will be always good things to learn from them, things that we never would be able to understand without experiencing them by ourselves.