A nod and a smile in passing. A cheerful face and a table to sit at in the cafeteria. A shoulder to lean on and a handful of tissues for when you’re feeling blue. These are the benefits of the Red Lanyard. Oh, there are material benefits, as well. A hot meal, a comfortable bed, a place to relax other than the bedside of your sick child. Yes, I’m talking about the infamous Ronald McDonald House Charities. Everyone knows someone who knows someone that has been a guest there.
Wearing the Red Lanyard is like having a membership into a secret society. The only way to get in is to be glassy eyed from lack of sleep, paper-faced from stress and lack of sunlight. Your child must be sick and you must be far from home. All others need not apply. Anyone that has ever worn the Red Lanyard has that sense of what others are going through. A comraderie formed simply from the the act of wearing a scrap of red around your neck.
Several weeks ago, the social worker approached me and suggested that maybe I’d like to take advantage of what RMHC had to offer. I politely declined. Surely Capt Snuggles would be getting better before too long and besides, I was sure there were others who needed the room more than I.
The weeks have ticked by slowly. Time has stretched so that I forget what the boys’ giggles sound like. I forget what fun bathtime is and I forget what it’s like to spend the day together just being a family. So I concede. Maybe taking a room, so that my boys (and the Hub, of course) can come and visit me is the answer to the loneliness, the isolation that has become my life.
They arrive at the RM House on Friday night. They are all loud. Talking, giggling, laughing, hugging, telling me a million things all at once. For them this is an adventure, an overnight away from home, a break from their loneliness and isolation as well.
We spend the weekend eating meals, watching tv, making crafts. Playing games and reading books. Normal, everyday things that we haven’t been able to do during this time apart.
We played at the playground, we went to the Zoo. (The Cincinnati Zoo is within walking distance of the hospital.) We made new friends. We interacted with each other and enjoyed our time together.
Capt Snuggles is slowly getting better, although I doubt we’ll be home any time soon. Three months will turn to 4, I have no doubt. RMHC let’s us have this home away from home for as long as we need it.
The House here in Cincy is the 3rd largest RM House in world. In the world! Can you imagine? Does that give you an idea of the impact this home away from home has for so many families? I know, I’m sounding a bit like a PSA. Let me adjust my soapbox…..
Everyone has a favorite charity and I’m not a pushy person (much…), but it does so happen that McD’s is having a fundraising campaign right now, both online and in the the stores. You’ve seen the $1.00 “Give A Hand” paper hands, and if you bought one, thank you. Your contribution goes to RM Houses like this one, to help those families that are caring for a sick child.
I did my part. I entered the online portion of the Give A Hand promotion. For 11 days you can enter a photo your hand with a message in support of RMHC. See. That really is my hand!
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. I just wanted, you know, to spread a little love to the people at Ronald McDonald House Charities. Just my way of saying “Thank you!” for their dedication.