A million people gathered tonight for the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Parade down Michigan Avenue, celebrating the start of the holiday season in Chicago.
A couple of blocks east, I was straightening a Thanksgiving-themed paper tablecloth on a table in the nurses' lounge, the parade on the television behind me. My fellow volunteers set up trays of Thanksgiving cookies.
Today is World Prematurity Day, a day to raise awareness of premature birth. As part of the day, I volunteered through the March of Dimes to host a Thanksgiving dinner for the NICU nurses and doctors at Prentice Women's Hospital, where both Jack and Jossie were born. My fellow NICU grad parents and I provided Thanksgiving dishes and decorations to thank the staff for their service.
What a good, good evening. There's probably not a nicer group of people - a roomful of nurses - to make you feel good about life. They were very appreciative of our efforts but in our eyes, we can never do enough to say thank you for taking care of our babies. I had the honor of seeing a few of "our" nurses who cared for Jossie. They loved seeing pictures of her today and hearing how well she is doing.
For anyone who has experienced something tough in their life and that would probably be all of us, I hope you get to experience this type of full-circle moment. Twenty-two months ago today, Jossie was born and it was scary. Twenty-two months later, I'm eating pumpkin pie and enjoying the company of some very, very nice and caring people. That was pretty cool. As I headed through the halls of the NICU to leave, the smells and the sounds so familiar, I felt a little lighter in spite of myself.
Reality hits me in the elevator. I see a family and I know that everything is not okay. A million people two blocks away are enjoying the revelry of the parade, and I know this family is not okay. Their life is their loved one's medical fight right now; the outside world is so foreign.
Life is messy and all over the place - kind of like this post. My wish to you is that the high of your highs is much greater than the low of your lows. Good night, my friends.