I had high hopes for an Insta-worthy Easter this year; instead, I spent the day in the hospital with my four-year-old. It all started the Monday before, when she woke up with a fever and cough. (Nothing a little Motrin couldn’t fix, right?!? Wrong.) As the week progressed, she got sicker and sicker, and on Saturday we went to the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with the flu and viral pneumonia.
We stayed the night, and on Easter morning I buttoned up my daughter’s hospital gown, rather than the sky-blue sundress she was supposed to wear to church that day. As she surveyed her new surroundings, she noticed a bright green Easter basket sitting on a table by the door. It was packed with stuffed animals, coloring books, markers, dolls, stickers and miniatures (basically everything she loves). When she asked if she could have it, I shrugged and handed it to her, too tired to protest. In the mad rush to get to the hospital, I’d packed zero toys and I’d completely forgotten about her Easter basket.
Over the next few hours I watched my daughter come back to life as she played with the items in the basket. She made a little doll shimmy up and down the rails of her hospital bed and decorated a coloring page with princess stickers.
The unit’s nurses told me the basket was a gift from Easter for Eli, an organization started by Martin Garrett of Roaring Springs, whose son Eli died of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2009 when he was three-years-old. In his memory, Garrett began collecting baskets for children hospitalized over Easter (his son spent two Easters in Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh before he died). This year Easter for Eli distributed 10,000 baskets to 41 hospitals in the United States and Canada, with Garrett logging 1,891 miles on the road to hand-deliver many of them! All baskets are candy-free and customized by age group and gender. You can learn more about this amazing initiative here.
I sent Garrett a note, thanking him for putting a smile on my daughter’s face and making an unexpected holiday hospital stay a bit more bearable.