Love with a “Whole Heart”

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I think it’s time I explain where the name for my business, Whole Heart, came from. I began my company under a different name back in 2011 and my business evolved really quickly. I struggled to think of a name that encompassed all that I was offering and all that I envision for the families I served. I thought about how a new mother describes her new baby as her “whole heart” and I started looking back on my own experiences with children and families. I know through these experiences I’ve witnessed love at it’s finest- love with a “whole heart”.

I knew a teenage girl once diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. She came from one of the nicest, most generous, most selfless families I’ve ever known. Of course they were distraught at her diagnosis and rarely left her side. Her mother, like many people, used physical exercise as a stress reliever. Well, one day she asked me where she could workout close to the hospital and all I knew of was a “gym” at the Ronald McDonald House nearby. She went there around 8 or 9 in the morning, learned they had nothing in the gym, and by 5:00 pm that same day, she had filled the gym with the necessary equipment it needed. She didn’t do this to benefit herself. She did it because this woman knew that she had the financial ability to provide what others couldn’t, and she felt strongly that other parents should have a way to relieve their stress during this difficult time. That’s love with a whole heart.

Every Christmas teachers receive many gifts from their students. One year my students were walking in with huge baskets of cookies, candles, movies, markers & stickers, and gift cards galore. It was truly overwhelming; however, my eyes were not on the gifts that were being brought to me, although I was grateful. They were on a little girl in the back of my classroom. You know this girl. The one who’s always clean and kind, but you still know there are days she goes without a meal, no matter how hard her family tries. My eyes were glued to hers as she watched with sadness as the other kids brought in their gifts for me. I watched her pull a lollipop out of her backpack and cover it with a tissue from the back of the classroom. She pulled the red ribbon off of a candy cane someone had dropped and she tied it around the tissue covered lollipop. She brought it to me with enormous pride in her eyes and she smiled, “Merry Christmas! I brought this for you.” That’s whole hearted love.

There was an older couple at my church growing up that had been married 30-40 years when I knew them, although shortly into their marriage, his lovely bride was diagnosed with a degenerative disease. She became wheelchair bound and 100% dependent on him soon to follow. For the remainder of their marriage, until the day she passed, he spent his days feeding her, changing her, bathing her, and loving her. Every Sunday he took her to church and held her hand and sang praises to God with her. That’s love with a whole heart.

Even though I didn’t go to the University of Texas, I’m a die hard Longhorns fan. I don’t even like football, but I love the Longhorns because I’ve known many of them personally and I know that for the most part (not all), but mostly, they are men of character and faith. A large group of them would visit the children’s hospital where I worked on the Friday before a home game. The quarterback at the time was doing a great job and was quickly becoming a local and national celebrity. He’d often request to tour my unit because he started to know some of the kids there. Well, one day I informed him that a family on my unit had specifically requested to see him. Their 15month old daughter was dying and in need of 3 organ transplants that just weren’t available. They wanted to bring some joy into the room by spending some time with this player. I shared this with him and as he and I were walking toward the elevator, we were bumrushed by news cameras. His PR rep informed him that the media wanted to speak with him and advised him not to leave the area, to which he replied, “That’s not why I came. I’m here for the kids.” He immediately walked away from the media and then, as if his presence alone wasn’t enough, he texted his teammates (all huge celebrities at this time) and invited them to join him in the room. Watching the players hold this little girl, smile and laugh with her family, and write letters of love and encouragement to them is something I’ll never forget. That’s love with a whole heart!

I began my career as a Child Life Specialist covering the PICU at Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio. There was a little boy on my unit once, around 8 years old that was very sick and estimated to have a few short days left to live. The family was from a town several hours away from the hospital and everyone had been present in the room except for the mom. Doctors, nurses, chaplains, and social workers had all been in contact with the mom regarding her whereabouts, but she would always say, “He’s not leaving yet. I’ll be there when it’s time to say goodbye.” Weeks went by and this boy continued to hang on despite what seemed medically inevitable. Then, one day, his mother arrived and said, “Ok. It’s time.” She walked to his bed, laid next to him holding his hand, and told him she loved him and “goodbye.” Within minutes, he died. This story may sound sad to some, but I saw this as love in it’s purest form. A boy who held on until he knew his mother could bare the grief of losing him. That’s love with a whole heart.

I had been trying to get pregnant almost a year when my sister informed me she was pregnant. That’s was one of the hardest phone calls I’ve had to take and of course I had a myriad of emotions to deal with. Because of my love for my sister though I began to love this baby even before she was born. I could see her in my mind.

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She was born July 5, 2013 and you’d better believe I was there. I asked my sister if I could be present for her birth because at the time I worried I may not get to experience that myself. I saw the top of her sweet head and I knew I was witnessing the most beautiful thing I’d ever see for the first time. I told my sister, “She’s here! She’s right there!” A few more pushes and she entered the world. I loved her so much from that very moment that all I could say for what seemed like minutes was, “I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.” Nothing else came to mind because nothing else mattered. A baby is love. It’s a love created from love that thrives on love and learns through love how to love.

 When you ask a parent about their child, many will reply, “They’re my whole heart!”