Ronald McDonald House

Forever Ohana

September 2015

By Christine Riley

It‘s been almost a year since we experienced our unexpected health crisis with our youngest son, Ethan, yet we still remember just how catastrophic this event was to our family, and how it would have been nearly impossible to get through emotionally if it wasn‘t for the Ronald McDonald House in Honolulu.

Dad Colin and mom Christine flank their three sons, Ethan, Dylan and Daniel
Dad Colin and mom Christine flank their three sons, Ethan, Dylan and Daniel
Ethan was born on the Big Island with significant, life-threatening issues. We still don‘t know exactly what happened to him, but we know he couldn‘t breathe properly and had Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension. He was in distress, and we were completely thrown when doctors said Ethan would need to be airlifted to Honolulu in order to survive. My husband Colin went with Ethan that night, while I was mandated to stay on the Big Island to recover from my C-section. I‘ve never felt so helpless or scared in my life. Ethan wound up in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Kapiolani Hospital, kept alive by sixteen machines.

Colin called me from Oahu to tell me he thought we may have a way for all of us to be together while Ethan was recovering, and for the first time, there was relief in his voice. He explained that the people from Ronald McDonald House let him know that they would have room not only for Colin and me, but for Dylan and Daniel too. He went on to say that they‘d even be willing to make accommodations for us to have Colin‘s parents stay with us, so that the older two boys would be taken care of and we could tend to Ethan together. Colin tried so hard to explain how wonderful these people were, how peaceful the House was, how warm the atmosphere felt, but would tear up as he talked. I had to see it for myself, he said.

I was able to fly to Oahu the next day, and after my first visit to see Ethan, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and couldn‘t articulate the needs I had. It turns out the RMHC-HI knows what a scared, shocked and exhausted parent/family member needs: food, comfort, validation, listening ears, kindness, attention to detail, support from their internal "community" as well as the support from the community of Honolulu who comes to the House to help.

The Ronald McDonald House became our home away from home, and within the next week our two boys and Colin‘s parents joined us. It‘s hard to express the feeling I had the night I knew that all of the people I love the most were finally in one place again.

RMHC-HI changed our lives and reminded us of the power of good. We laid our heads down at night, praying for Ethan to get well and thanking God for organizations such as RMHC-HI.

Ethan has made almost a full recovery, from what we can tell so far. His development is baffling considering where he started from. And as his family-we‘ve recovered too. We still talk about our stay at Ronald McDonald House and can‘t say enough about how much you helped us. We are more grateful, humbler, and open to the powers at work in the universe. And the people at every level of the RMHC-HI are channeling that power, that compassion and that love.

We are forever thankful for every single thing you do, big and small, every day. Because it all makes a difference.

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