Guest post by C.J. Kirkland
It was a mother’s intuition that brought Sharnelle and
her son Jericho to Memphis and the Ronald McDonald House. It is her strength
and the prayers of her ancestors that keep her going.
When Jericho was diagnosed with retinoblastoma they were
given a choice of two hospitals at which he could receive care. During their
visit to the first hospital she was told all of the things they could not do,
reminded of all the promises they could not make. She then spoke with doctors
at the second hospital, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital here in Memphis.
They shared with her all that they could do, and though nothing was promised,
they reminded her of what possibilities did exist if treatment was successful.
Sharnelle says that was confirmation that her gut was right: St. Jude was the
place for them to be. After a short stay on St. Jude’s campus, they moved to
the Ronald McDonald House.
She shares that when they arrived at the Ronald McDonald
House to check in, Glenda gave them “an uplifting sense of how it would be.”
Sharnelle had to leave behind her other three young children to fight this
battle with Jericho; it has been difficult. She says that Glenda made them feel
so welcomed and this helped her tremendously as she braced for what was to
come. Jericho would be receiving back-to-back chemotherapy treatments. He would
go through two months during which he could not open his eyes. But Glenda set
the stage, Sharnelle says, and she sees that Jericho’s strength is building
right alongside her own.
“I don’t have bad days,” she tells me. There are times
when she is quiet, reflective, but is always reminded of her blessings. The
staff has made it so easy for her to stay hopeful and optimistic, she
continues. “Especially Jackie.” I can’t help but smile as Sharnelle talks of
how much good Jackie has sown into their lives: she always takes the time to
talk with them and play with Jericho (she and others at RMH know him
affectionately as “Smalls”.) When the weather abruptly changed Jackie made sure
that Jericho had a proper jacket, which he had not needed in warm New Mexico.
There is pep in Sharnelle’s voice as she talks about Jackie and it is obvious
the positive impact that’s been made in the short time they have been at RMH.
Sweet 2 1/2 old year old “Smalls” has been very patient
during our chat, even as his little yellow truck keeps falling to the ground. I
lean over to pick it up and notice the patterned blanket draped across his
stroller. This prompts me to timidly ask Sharnelle if she is Native American. A
big smile forms across her face and she replies, “yes, Navajo.” I excitedly
share that my husband is part Sioux and we talk about the collective strength drawn
from the spirits of her Navajo tribe. It is the same strength I see in her and
in her son. It is a strength that has been reinforced by the kindness shown to
them by staff members like Glenda and Jackie at RMH, and a strength I hope
continues to grow beyond measure.
“Go forth in peace,
be still within yourself, and know that the trail is beautiful. May the winds
be gentle upon your face and your direction be straight and true, as the flight
of the eagle. Walk in beauty and harmony with God and all people.” – Navajo