Stories

RMH Staff Helps Mom Remain Hopeful and Optimistic

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 blessing 

Posted by John Parie at 6:00 AM
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