HOPE. Hope is a powerful word. It conjures images of anticipation…expectations…joy … and even peace. By definition, “Hope is a state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one's life or the world at large”(“Hope,” 2021).
Hope is a feeling that has been missing in our world these past 12 months, especially in the Heilman household. One year ago, our world changed as Covid-19 entered the U.S. and locked down our lives. John and I began working from home. The kids transitioned to learning in our living room. We began ordering our groceries online. We started wearing masks any time we ventured out of the house. And we isolated ourselves from others.
The world virtually shut down and we did our best to find the good in a difficult situation. With no swim practices, or parties to go to, with no girls’ nights out or late nights at the office, we spent more time as a family. Instead of overscheduled calendars, we spent our time making homemade dinners, having family game nights, and watching lots of movie after work and school. The four of us played volleyball outside and splashed around in the pool, getting a tan while we found new ways to spend our extra hours. I soaked in this time, both literally and figuratively.
Time is a gift I have learned to appreciate as I raise three children with chronic illness. Time is never guaranteed for anyone, but when watching Halle’s health decline between 2012-2015, I soaked in every moment. Deep down I knew her time on this earth was limited and I would treasure all the days we had with her. The good and the bad. In fact, I knew before Halle was even born, that she would not live a long life. It is hard to explain but I had an ominous feeling that my entire world would change with her birth and I should savor each moment God gave me with her, but I will save that story for another time.
That same ominous feeling returned in March 2020. I did not have that feeling for my own family necessarily, but I knew when the entire world went into lockdown, we should all try to treasure the moments we have with each other, because this pandemic would change all our lives. Everyone approached the pandemic in their own way. Some people questioned its severity. Others hoarded supplies. Some families were not that worried as they were young and healthy. For us, we did not have that luxury and fear began to creep in. We had already lost one child to complications from a weakened immune system, John and I did not want to face the loss of another. We were willing to do anything to protect our two remaining kiddos. But with each day, the news got worse, and the fear continued to mount. Thankfully, John and I both had our jobs and we found ourselves focusing on work during the day and finding new ways to spend quality time with our kids each night.
Despite our best attempts at keeping our minds off the loss of life and the devastation Covid was bringing, I was losing hope that we could continue to protect our children despite the many precautions we were taking. Hope, as I said, is a powerful word. Even more powerful when you begin to lose it. There are many days I feel I did not do enough to protect Halle when she was on this earth. Could I have found another doctor or a new treatment? Did we let her go too soon? As a parent, I would do anything for my children, even die for them. But yesterday, I was able to live for them, in order to protect them. We are a high risk, vulnerable family, more so during these pandemic times, and because of that, the medical community knows the Heilmans well. Yesterday, as I was walking past our pharmacist, she quickly ran over to me. She had just got a call for a cancellation and needed to use up a vaccine dose before it expired. She wondered if I wanted the shot. As “YES” was slipping from my lips, tears started streaming down my face. I had just prayed for protection for my family. As a country, we are getting so close to widespread vaccine distribution. We had just hoped we could keep our kids protected until it was time for us all to receive the vaccine. Yes, I recently began to find that hope again. Hope that we could find a way to keep our kids safe. We even got Neeley put on the Pfizer list for vulnerable teenagers last week and here I was, just a few days later, being offered the vaccination. God is Good. Medical professionals are good. I quickly texted John to let him know the gift I just received and he too wept. The pharmacist knew how important this was to our family. As she gave me my shot, she said “God is good.” I cried so many happy tears. She told me if they got another cancellation, she would call John, but it is rare to get those. I thanked her profusely and kept telling her “you don’t know what this means to our family.” And all she said was, “Oh but I do.” She truly does. We have showed up 5 minutes before closing with 6 prescriptions right after Ben got out of the hospital and asked if they could just fill the most important one. They stayed an extra hour and filled them all. The gave us their sincere sympathies when Halle died and one of the techs even bought us a pumpkin to celebrate HALLEween to honor her life (she had read our blog). They handle our insurance changes and find coupons to help lower our costs. They always have our medication ready and take the time to answer questions on any drug interactions. Yes, they do know what this means to our family.
I was so excited to get home and tell the kids I was vaccinated today! “Mom wins the vaccine race in the Heilman household!” Neeley declared. “Who will be next?” Just a few minutes later, the phone rang. It was the pharmacy. Before she could say anything other than her name, John stood up and asked, “do you have another cancellation?” he paused, “I can be there in five minutes!” My sloth-like husband was out the door in seconds. He was back home within thirty minutes and gave me the biggest hug with his sore arm. “That is it, we have done everything we can possibly do to protect Neeley and Ben up to this point. Dare I hope, they too will get the vaccine soon?” I dare to HOPE. As I have said, as a parent who has lost a child, I will do anything in my power to protect my other two children. Now I know I have done my part. I have done all I can do. Now I wait. Now, I HOPE.
Thank you, to the medical professionals who go above and beyond on a daily basis, and for those who care for our little family. We are truly grateful.
Hope. (3/9/2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hope