We arrived in Memphis just before midnight last night. So many memories just approaching the river. On our right, the first sight was the Kroger where we shopped for groceries. Every week St. Jude gave us $80 to spend! Next was the Applebee's where Dave and I went on a date when our friends the Throops offered to stay at Ronald McDonald House w/ Ethan and Samantha. Our only private time in about two months. Thank you friends! Next was the Walgreen's where I desperately waited a half hour while Samantha screamed w/ tiredness and an ear infection. I had to wait for insurance to kick in (or something). My very practical Katrina suggested I turn on a movie for Samantha since we had the player in the car. Whew. And finally, on the left, the Red Roof Inn where we stayed when our family exceeded four, the limit for accommodations at St. Jude.
Just on that short 1/4 mile stretch, the heaviness of it all touched me, as it always does, and maybe always will. There's so much sadness mixed w/ hope at St. Jude. It's an amazing place. You never know quite how to feel; sad for the situation, happy for the care you get, sad for those who've lost the battle, happy for those who've won, hopeful for those who are still fighting. A community of people - patients, caregivers, personnel; even though the travel is difficult for me I HAD to be here today. For so many reasons. There I go, I'm crying. It's just so emotional. But I need to hurry up and finish because I don't want to miss a single minute of this important day.
So anyway, after that little stretch, we crossed the bridge. Crossing the bridge is always when the first night seems so real. Feb. 17 '08 - actually it was early morning, 5 AM. Such a long drive to get there. Ethan was flown down and Dave, Samantha and I drove. That's a whole different story, an amazing one which Dave and I shared w/ Ethan as we traveled yesterday. But back to that first night and the memories it holds: where in the world are we? What's our son doing lying in a hospital bed 7 hours from home? This place we've heard of since childhood that Danny Thomas founded. That's where the really sick kids go. Our son HERE??!!!
And finally, after the bridge, as we approached St. Jude, there it was, Ronald McDonald House. Our home for two months. What a place. Today I plan to go there to see Ethan's handprint on the wall in person. I haven't been here since winter or spring of '09 if I'm remembering right. The travel's been too hard for me. But I made it! And I'm ready to do all I need today to say good-bye to this chapter of our lives.