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 Inside this Box

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scottn
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Posts : 121
Join date : 2011-12-13

PostSubject: Inside this Box   Fri Jun 24, 2016 4:19 am

[size=16]Inside This Box[/size]

 

 

 

[size=16]Did you ever take the time to notice that when you look directly at a box, which actually has six sides, you can only see three sides at one time?[/size]

 

[size=16]This is a story about choosing to see all sides of a box.[/size]

 

[size=16]When I met Pierre for the first time, he told me something I could hardly believe. Wait. Actually, after hearing hundreds of stories, I could believe it. After all, isn’t that why Cindy, a pediatric ICU nurse at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, had asked me to visit with this struggling dad?[/size]

 

[size=16]Pierre was standing close to his child’s bed when I announced, “Hey, is it okay if I come in?” The room was just like the rest of the rooms on that hospital floor. Seems like I’ve been in them all at one time or another. The children are often asleep, draped with numerous hoses and wires while their lifesaving machines stand at attention, whispering back and forth about their day’s work. Even though I am just a carpenter by trade, I know from experience what it’s like to have a sick child and so I now give back by mentoring others who are just beginning the journey.[/size]

 

[size=16]Each time I enter a hospital room, I gently slide the glass door to the right. I know from experience I’m about to hear a chapter of someone’s life and also add another page—or at times a full book—to mine. The latter was about to start unfolding that February afternoon here in Michigan.[/size]

 

[size=16]That day, though, it was all about Pierre’s story. It was like sitting down to read a novel or maybe like listening to one of those audio books you download to your computer. I just sat back and listened.[/size]

 

[size=16]When I am asked to speak to medical staff that cares for children with terminal illnesses, I always stress the art of “listening to the room.” I explain during the training that even though we have a well-guided agenda when we cross the threshold into someone’s life, we need to be open to other options of care. Our good intentions can often interfere with a family’s goals and dreams, upsetting them and making good communication more difficult. Pierre and his wife fit that scenario exactly.[/size]

 

[size=16]When I cross the threshold into a new family’s life, I try to understand the hopes and dreams of each of its members. Often moms and dads hope for different things—another example of seeing just three sides of a box when there are actually six. Opening boxes in situations where kids are sick is a sacred experience. At least that’s the way I see it, especially when engaging with families who have children with terminal illnesses.[/size]

 

[size=16]I spent many Sunday afternoons with Pierre and his wife, Amanda. The weeks they were not admitted to the PICU to visit with their two-year-old son, I called or sent them a short text. “Hope you have a favorable wind today,” my text might read.  When I first met Pierre, he told me about his time on the Great Lakes and his love of sailing. I felt that was one of our connections.[/size]

 

[size=16]During their last extended hospital stay, some of the nurses and doctors communicated well with the family, but others failed miserably. During my conversations with Pierre and Amanda, I often wondered if the folks taking care of them were “listening to the room.” I wondered if they were seeing only the obvious, three sides of the room. If you think about it, a room is really a box. There are four walls, but there are also a ceiling and a floor. On my calculator, that adds up to six.[/size]

 

[size=16]One day I was at the hospital for another volunteering opportunity and I thought I would stop by and see Pierre. When I didn’t see the family in their room, tears started to roll down my cheeks. “I guess I’m too late,” I whispered to myself.[/size]

 

[size=16]While walking back toward the exit of the unit, a voice peeped up behind me, “Hey, Scott.” Before I could turn around I wiped my tears to the side and finally got the courage to look up. There standing before me was Amanda with a big smile on her face. She said, “Did you come up to see us? We moved to another room. Pierre will be happy to see you.”[/size]

 

[size=16]The weeks passed by and after each visit, I wondered again if they would ever make it home whole.[/size]

 

[size=16]Well, the day finally came when I received the phone call. “Hey Scott, Amanda and I would like you to speak at Christian’s funeral. You know us the best.” I accepted and was honored they asked me.[/size]

 

[size=16]At the funeral, I read a poem about sailing that I had written earlier that year for Pierre. The poem ends with: [/size]

 

[size=16]With my dead reckoning a bit off I will inhale the breath[/size]

[size=16]of my wife and ill child—I pray as their faint, warm air billows my sail[/size]

[size=16]it will harnesses the energy I need to creep along[/size]

[size=16]to my next port, my next mooring[/size]

[size=16]where maybe, just maybe, I can take a deep breath of fresh air again[/size]

 

[size=16]After finishing the poem, I spoke about how all of us, at times, need a breath of fresh air from a friend to help us move along. I invited the congregation to stand up and on the count of three we all took a deep breath of fresh air for the family.[/size]

 

[size=16]I then stepped away from the pulpit and presented Pierre and Amanda with a gift from all of us at Mott.[/size]

 

[size=16]The gift was a memory box I made from reclaimed pantry shelves from a home built back in the early twenties. As I moved across the church stage toward the box I said, “Inside this box,” and then my lip started to quiver and I finished, “is another box.” Slowly bending down and holding back the tears I opened the box and I gently pulled out a smaller memory box made of cherry. “This box is for Christian’s little brother, Julius.”[/size]

 

[size=16]You see, the first thing Pierre told me when I entered his room, for the first time, was that his first son, Julius, had died a couple of years back. He was only one day old when he passed.[/size]

 

[size=16]Boxes are interesting things, especially when you look at them from all sides, from the inside, and maybe sometimes when, like I did, you find other boxes to open. From the first day I met this family, I knew their box contained a big story. But it all began with taking the time to listen to the room, look inside the box, and let the story unfold. I’d like it if you could circle back to the ideas of fresh air and their story becoming part of a chapter in your book/story/life.[/size]
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