When we left Children's Hospital in October of 2008 I didn't know if I would ever care to go back. I wasn't sure why I would want to, or what it could possibly mean to me to go back. The hospital held a lot of memories, both good and bad. The biggest reason I told myself to go back was to see the finished construction project that had started during our stay. Just to see a building I had convinced myself.
That couldn't have been further from the truth.
Thanks to Tom at SpiritDomes and the sale of the Isaiah 40:31 dome, we were given an opportunity to go back to Children's this past weekend. Tom had been setting aside a portion of the sale of the hats with the idea of donating back to the hospital that is such a big part of Isaiah's story.
So I set up a meeting with Andrew and John from the foundation at the hospital. They were excited to have us come and see the changes to the building as well. We talked on the phone and through email about how cool the building had become and how excited we were to see the changes. I still wasn't getting why I was going.
At one point I mentioned how it would be neat if we could pop in and say hello to Isaiah's main doctor, Dr. Baisch. Andrew said he would see what he would do and the next email I recieved from him said that Dr. Baisch remembered Isaiah as,"the little boy from South Dakota", and he would be glad to meet with us. How cool was that we thought. He remembered us three years later.
The day of the visit came. Tour at 11:00, donation to the foundation at 11:30 and then at the zoo by 12:00. Bing, bang, boom.
Yeah right. The building was beautiful. It had changed alot. We didn't recognize much of anything. Isaiah surely didn't recognize it but was intrigued by all of the new kid friendly additions.
We were told that Dr. Baisch would be able to say hello in a few minutes so we made our way to the floor he was working on. As we approached the wing he was on, he turned the corner. A little feeling of every emotion mixed together swept over my body. As I looked over at Anne a tear rolled down her face. And as Dr. walked closer to us he said, "Hey, I think I know you guys", and embraced each of us in a huge hug.
We exchanged small talk for a brief moment and then just like that we were reminiscing like old college buddies. This man had been such a major part of our lives for 30 days that to see him again was like we had never left. We told him of Isaiah's amazing journey since the hospital. He told us about his year 2009, which mimmicked our 2008. He spoke of losing his dad to cancer, his wife and son in law beating their own bouts with the disease and even of his own victory with it. All in one year!
We really were meant to be here this day! You could just feel it. What we thought would last 5 minutes turned into a nintey minute tour and visit with our old friend. By the end he was excited to show us the third floor. The very floor we spent most of our stay. The ONLY floor that had been left unchanged since our stay.
As we walked through the third floor doors you could sense a feeling of unease. Anne began to cry and Dr. Baisch grabbed her and held her. Telling her it was okay, I think a tear even rolled down his own cheek. I followed Isaiah who walked slowly down the corridor. This was his "old college friend" moment. He walked in complete silence down the hall. Looking into the rooms on both sides. For a building that he didn't recognize three minutes ago to turn into this place that he knew was his home for a month seemed unimaginable. He sat motionless on one of the chairs outside the room where he had been treated. For a brief moment you could literally see it all coming back to him. His eyes scanned and his head spun. He knew this place! It was his! God had shown himself in one of these rooms and Isaiah knew it! He was back with his old friend.
I could have stood there all day and watched him soak it all in. But much like any six year old he was soon off and checking out the new carwash style sinks with his little brother. We said our goodbyes to Dr. Baisch and promised to be back. He promised to stop by our house on his way to Nebraska to take Isaiah golfing. And I believe he will.