Now you can have that Boyz to Men song stuck in your head too - you're welcome.
But seriously, saying goodbye, it's no joke. On Sunday, December 3rd the Forever Young Zone Playroom at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford will close forever. The new hospital opens the next weekend and we have to move everything into the new and improved 3 playrooms. The new Forever Young Zone will now be on the 4th floor of the new building and only used as a Teen Lounge. A pretty cool, pretty fancy teen lounge with it's very own Recreation Therapist, who is also pretty cool, young and has a million fun ideas for the area.
I remember visiting Lucile Packard in the Fall 1996 as a undergraduate looking for an internship. I met with a young Kirsten who gave me all the low down on what it was like to be a dually certified CTRS and CCLS. Unfortunately the timing for the internship didn't work out for my University, but I always knew in the back of my mind that I would be back.
And I was, fast forward to Summer of 2000 and I was hired as the newest Recreation Therapist running playrooms for the hospital in the brand new Forever Young Zone, which had just opened the year before by Steve Young the former SF 49er and his Forever Young Foundation. For 17 years that playroom has been home base, the meeting spot, the gossip corner and the place of normalcy for the thousands of children and staff who have walked through its doors.
I'll never forget the first time a mom told me her child with a respiratory illness was dying and that they were taking her home. Her mom thanked me with tears in her eyes for giving her daughter a place to forget about being sick. I remember looking at this sweet girl playing and thinking, "all she wants to do is play, I hope she get's to play a little longer". Who knew a room could have that kind of power?
I'll never ever ever forget when my co-worker Lisa, who had several times over denounced ever having children opened a cake box during staff meeting stating, I'M PREGNANT. The shock and screams that followed were exhilarating. Who knew a room could embrace such joy?
I'll never forget running a busy playroom and one of my Oncology kids turned and threw up on the floor behind her seat, looked a me with a little embarrassment and said, "I don't want to go back to my room, can't I stay?" and me throwing a towel over the mess, saying, "Of course, I got this" and she continued on. Who knew a room could be so forgiving?
I remember all the children and families meeting celebrities, athletes and artists. Cherishing all the signed memorabilia, feeling the love of others and embrace being spoiled for the day. Who knew a room could hold such treasures?
I'll always remember the hundreds of pot lucks our department has had, celebrating birthdays (with the old school birthday song that has already been retired), babies, marriages, retirement parties and goodbyes in many forms. Who knew a room could marinate such bounty?
It's a bit surreal to know that it's closing, but I am grateful for all the memories, for all the friends, co-workers and kiddos who have filled my heart with power, joy, forgiveness, treasures, bounty and a million other emotions. I am rich because of it.
Thank you Forever Young Zone Foundation, who knew your donation would mean so much?