Good evening. We appreciate you folks inviting our
family here tonight to share about an experience very
precious to us.
Almost 2 years ago, our third son was born with a
heart defect we had not previously known about,
requiring heart surgery at a mere 4 days old. Being
only 5 pounds at the time and with a number of
anatomical abnormalities, his recovery went much
worse than expected- resulting in a 2 month stay at the
RMH of Chapel Hill. It was then that it was no longer
just the place McDonalds collects coins for . In large
part, because of their remarkable service to families,
the worst 2 months of this families life was also the
most remarkable 2 months of our lives. You see, no
one notified us before our son was born, that we
would need to prepare to fight for his life upon his
arrival into this world. But at the RMH, they knew.
Sure they didn’t know the Joyners by name…yet. But
they knew there would be families just like us. It’s
what they live and breath there…Families.
And so while I was home preparing nursery bedding,
they were busy preparing for us.
They were preparing a place where instead of leaving
our then 2 and 3 year old boys in another town with
family for 2 months, they could play cowboys and
indians with other children in the halls of the RMH.
Where they could greet us with their refreshing love
after a long day at the hospital. Where we could eat
dinner together in the evening (for free) and snuggle
together at night, before starting the fight again in the
morning. It is thanks to the RMH that our boys
remember those months with great fondness, not with
tears and loneliness. The folks at the RMH had
readied a place where a mother who thought she
would be cradling her newborn and nursing him,
could instead use their hospital grade pumps through
the night hours and store milk for my baby in a
special freezer…just for moms like me. A place
where I could do laundry like a normal mom, though
nothing in my life at the time seemed normal.
Massages on Thursday, peanut butter cookies on
Wednesday, therapy dogs for the siblings on
Monday, shuttles to and from the hospital
hourly…EVERYTHING I needed and nothing I’d
thought of. How could I have known what this little
family would need to get through the battle of a
lifetime? Gratefully, I didn’t need to know…because
they make it their job to.
The first night in Chapel Hill, we were dropped off at
a strange hotel, ushered to a non-smoking room that
smelled heavily like smoke, and we fell into bed,
numb, grief stricken and anxious…and it cost us far
This is a stark contrast to peanut butter cookies,living
rooms, and dinners. The rest of our stay those months
was in the RMH of CH. It doesn’t take a math wiz to
figure out that for the average family enduring a long
hospital stay, between the hotel and food and travel,
the financial burden can be crippling. And many
families are forced to make the impossible choice of
either leaving their sick child alone to struggle…or
drown trying. Because of the RMH, this family didn’t
have to make that decision.
You see, at the end of the day, for every family at the
RMH, there is only one thing that matters- the fight
for life. And as you wage the war- they are there, in
your corner, making sure we could do just that…
live. So that when you walk beyond the beeping
monitors, sounding alarms, and sullen faces, through
those hospital doors…and into the space where life
still goes on…there they are…making life possible in
an impossible time. Miraculously, my son survived
and is doing wonderfully, though for many families
the story will end differently. So when you light these
luminaries, please remember what it is you are
helping to make possible for families in their darkest
of days. You are making it possible for them to go on
hoping and living in a place where they make it their
primary goal to kindle hope in the midst of pain.
You wanna pull out your fat wallet and give, right?
Please say yes.
At least that's what I hope happens.