When I began to ask Lori questions I shouldn’t have been surprised by her brief but impactful answers. Her knowledge and expertise were evident. She shared of the beautiful and varying memorial services the hospital hosts throughout the year. Thoughtful gatherings from releasing butterflies at picnics to hospital wide candlelight celebrations. It made me glad to know that for a moment these families would be part of something so special as they courageously celebrate the life of their lost little loves surrounded by others that have walked their path.
What would a typical day look like for you? I asked. To which Lori replied “there is no such thing as a typical day. They are all different”. When she reflected on what her high level plan is for everyday she shared that “her job is to make sure that the parents have no regrets at the end of the day.” A powerful and touching response that struck a chord deep within me. She shared her hopes that if her job is done right “parents are aware of all the options” and have the ability to make the hardest decisions of their lives. Whether it be “one last walk in the park or having a TV brought in to watch one last hockey game together” Lori works hard to make sure she can help these families to the best of her ability. She smiled as she shared that “LOVE” is the most common theme across the families, “a love so strong that they can let them go”. She also shared, with great respect, the RESILIENCE she sees in all of them.
As her phone was going off, she apologized for the abrupt but necessary departure. I was grateful for every minute and felt a little guilty for stealing her time. As we quickly finished our coffee, tea and said our goodbyes, the grave reality of a day in the life of Lori set in. As I was heading out for an unknown afternoon, Lori was making her way upstairs to meet with the medical team to deliver the news to a long time family that end of treatment was near. My heart just sank and again I felt the shock and isolation of knowing another precious life was about to be lost while the cafeteria and hallways bustled with noise. It was only noon, but this was not the first loss of the day. Lori did not share names, places, or any details further than I have shared here but with that sliver of information I left Sick Kids with a heavy heart and a racing mind.
As I left the doors of the hospital, my afternoon took a path I hadn't planned nor ever expected. Stay tuned for PART 2, where I share a beautiful twist of events that lead to a very synchronistic day.