By Christina Hemens
Eleanor Roosevelt said that “we gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face … we must do that which we think we cannot.”
Before I started working at Ronald McDonald House I thought that strength was based on how much someone could bench press or how far they could run. In my short six weeks with the House I have been given a crash course in strength from every family that walks through our front doors.
It was after Christmas when I received the chance to spend an evening with one of our families. Their son was born prematurely and is facing multiple complications. While sharing their journey you could see they were full of pride whenever they mentioned their son. They told me about his personality, his fight to live and his smile.
Two weeks went by and I ran into them again. I asked after their son. They told me that he was facing a life-long genetic disorder which would significantly decrease his life expectancy. The news was shocking, what was I to say to them? Before I even had the chance to respond they told me that it didn’t matter; they were going to educate themselves and love him as he is. His mother said “today is a celebration, he gained a pound, that is what we are focusing on.” She said this with a smile on her face, no tears in her eyes and with such great sincerity. This is the definition of strength; powering through the difficult times to be the best you can be for others.
As I drove home I thought about the challenges that each family at the House faces. Their strength is a rarity in our world but a necessity in theirs. I considered how I would handle the situation and yet I could not picture it, I can only hope that if faced with the same situation I can come out as strong, courageous and resilient as the people in this House.
I am excited to meet this baby boy when he is a young man. I can only imagine the impact he will leave on our world with such powerful and strong role models. I feel lucky to be in such great company.