This week it's made me a little teary writing this post that I've started it again and again. All for one very important reason. Here's the backstory. The thanks is at the end.
On Monday evening I went with my manager to a childrens' hospice local to us. The reason for doing so is that we're hoping to be able to do some fundraising for them through our work and we were invited to their open evening to have a look around, get an idea of what we could do to help and see some of the amazing work that they do. The hospice is called Little Harbour. It's beautiful. That could be one of the strangest things I've ever said, I know. But it's true. The place really is just astoundingly amazing. Every single corner is dedicated to creating the memories for children AND the families of the children, who won't sadly, make adulthood. The lovely lady that showed us around spoke with such passion and enthusiasm and love, she was made for her job. She told us about times when they have pizza parties, fashion shows, etc.
There was one time that a young boy wanted a James Bond themed birthday so they arranged for the cut-outs for the latest movie to be borrowed from the cinema, everyone dressed up and they had a secret mission for him to complete!
Another time, earlier this year. A group of children wanted to go to the beach. Of course it was too cold for them to actually go. So they stretched a 20ft tarpaulin across the building, COVERED it in sand, put up windbreakers, buckets and spades and had plenty of ice-cream so it was just like a day at the beach! In the winter! Inside!
She showed us around this beautiful place which ended with a separate area attached, but still slightly apart, from the flawlessly designed building. "This is the Starborn room." She said. "This room is exactly the same as all the others, filled with colour, with comfort, with love. The only difference is that it's a refrigeration room. Families come to this area when their child has passed away." Until she said that, you would never have thought it was any different to ANY of the other rooms. It was full of love and of care. To be honest, naively to say, I'd almost forgotten about the fact it was a childrens' hospice up until then. The whole place is so...happy?!
She took us just away from the room, to what looked like a beautiful chapel, attached. I say chapel because of the style of the room, the huge, stained glass windows and the peaceful, calming feel. She explained how one day they'd held a fake wedding here for the families and children staying at the time. Two teddies got married, and a little girl patient and a little boy patient did the voices, everyone staying dressed up and they had a big reception party at the end. The little boy's father came up to the staff and thanked them.
It was the closest he knew he'd ever see to his son stand at the aisle.
I know that this is a sad post. And I'm sorry for that. But if you think about what you've read, people always assume about childrens' hospices that they're sad, palliative care places for end of life. But they are so, so much more. They provide respite care for families, care for the siblings of children with life limiting illnesses, and most importantly, they provide a lifetime of memories for the children and their families. And that, my friends, is exactly what I'm thankful for.
Thank you Lisette and Leona, forever you inspire me to be more thankful. And this week, I really am.
Love Sophie Xx