On December 30th, two years ago today, we had one of the most unexpected and moving experiences of our lives…from a complete stranger. To me, it confirms that there is something very special, magical even, that has come from this group and the kindness spread #ForBlake.
Blake, Rob and I were then living in the ICU at Texas Children’s Hospital. We had made it through about 10 long tumultuous days in this new environment. Blake was undergoing his lung transplant evaluation (which felt more like a never-ending family interrogation). We endured some of the most horrific conversations about possible scenarios and outcomes. We had left our family, friends, jobs and support system behind to this unknown chapter. Christmas had come and gone without our daughter and loved ones back at home. Rob and I started to take notice that the numbers on Blake’s monitors were starting to trend in the wrong direction, and the feeling of helplessness and uncertainty were setting in. We felt incredibly alone there with no real connections or allies. The entire CVICU team at Rady’s in San Diego had come to be an extended family to us, and starting over in Houston was extremely difficult. With the exception of three nurses we built rapport with, it seemed like we were just a number or just the next family in this city-sized hospital.
Late morning, security stopped by our room to let us know someone was in the lobby asking for us. We didn’t know anyone, much less expect someone. Since I was still on crutches, Rob went out to see who it was. He didn’t recognize anyone in the lobby, but a woman approached him. She said, “Are you Blake’s dad?” To which he said yes. She introduced herself as Carey, and began to tell her story. She explained that she used to live in San Diego. Back in September of 2017 she was in the Cardiff area trying to get some chairs to fit into her car. She was having some trouble when a stranger approached her. Out of the blue, this woman asked if she could help and told her of Blake’s story. She proceeded to load the furniture into her own vehicle and drove them to Carey’s home. She was blown away by the kindness of this complete stranger, looked up Blake’s story on Facebook and joined this group. She had been following our journey since then…
Fast forward… More than a year later, Carey is reading about our sudden transfer to TCH in Houston. She explained to Rob that she now lives in Houston, just 10 minutes away from the hospital. Blake’s story had affected her deeply, but also touched her life personally through the kindness of that unknown woman back in Cardiff. And now, here she is – a complete stranger to us – that showed up out of nowhere in a time of desperation. She told Rob that she felt compelled to come to the hospital when she found out we were there. She offered us a place to stay, welcomed us to her home – even if just to use her shower. She said we could borrow her car and was willing to help in whatever capacity we needed. A stranger offered this. She brought toys for Blake and a bag of food for us packed in a Cardiff bag from Seaside Market (which happens to be our favorite local neighborhood market). She physically handed Rob these items, but gave us something so intangible – something we will never fully grasp. It was comfort, connection, something familiar, a slice of home and a level of compassion I’m not sure we’ve ever experienced before or ever will again.
The kindness that we ask be spread #ForBlake had come full circle and touched our lives tenfold, in a place and time we needed it most.
To this day, we’re not sure who helped Carey with her chairs in San Diego. (Was it you???) But that simple gesture left an imprint on Carey’s heart and fueled her to pay it forward… which somehow made it back to us. Even now, I can’t verbalize this story without getting choked up. We are so affected by this experience, and it was all because of someone’s willingness to stop and take a few minutes out of their life to do a good deed for Blake.
Carey, if you’re out there…there are no words for our gratitude. Thank you for taking a leap of faith and coming to the hospital that day.