The fifth day of Hope in Focus was low-key but impactful. There was only one participant, so their parents and I walked to the garden (we LOVE the garden) to take some photos before they had to finish a treatment. We got done a little early because of the treatment schedule, but it was so inspiring to see the participant take photos and having fun all while having an IV in their hand.
As always, I want to be authentic and share what’s on my heart. This experience has been a pretty emotional one for me. Although I have experience working with kids and love working with them, I’m not an education major and was worried before the project about being able to effectively teach and connect with the kids. In all honesty I had some anxiety about it, which has gone away however since meeting the kids and working with them, which I feel really thankful for. But there are other forces that have taken an emotional toll as well. It’s been challenging seeing participants who are going through treatments or are having days they aren’t feeling well. Even though I have a chronic illness myself, I feel so badly for the kiddos and wish more than anything to take their pain totally away. I had some participants who had recently lost an immediate family member in an accident and had other family in the hospital. I was surprised at how open they were about it and forgot that sometimes kids can be very blunt about the truth. Working with kids who have recently experienced trauma was difficult—not because of the kids, but because of the situation you know they are going home to. You know that everything in their life has now changed. You’re there to see difficult conversations between family and tears.
A wise professor once told me that grief is essentially a chronic illness. I think they hit the nail on the head. Grief can be this shadow that follows you forever. You never stop loving or thinking about someone who has passed. Unending, no cure; the definition of chronic.
I was extremely impressed by how the kids carried themselves during such a tough time. And I was so happy to see them get excited about taking photos and having fun while doing it.
The process as a whole has also been emotional in a sense that I’ve been planning this for so long and it’s finally happening (and I know that it is almost over, for now). It comes with a lot of bittersweet feelings in that way. Some of the bumps in the road have been emotionally challenging. It’s been strange being in a new place and not knowing anyone.
But, the whole experience has also been SO beautiful, not only in self-growth, but in seeing growth and joy within participants. Luckily, I’ve been able to do at least one thing each day for myself (“me-time,” as I like to say). As a partial introvert, I’ve found this necessary in order to process emotions, think, and dream up new ideas. Some activities have included: perusing a record store, hiking, climbing through waterfalls, playing mandolin, journaling on the bay walk, and going to the aquarium. Never be afraid to have some “me-time.” It’s so needed for self-reflection.
More updates to follow. As always, thanks for following the journey. Happiest of Tuesdays, friends!
Photo by participant