Esther Morales, mother of Fernando, shares her story with us today of Fernando's life, and experience in the Prouty Garden.
Love and Hope Forever
By Esther Morales
In Memory of Fernando 1994-2015
“It is so nice to breath the air outside.” Those were Fernando’s words in an entrance from his diary dated November 2011. He was referring to his first visit to the Prouty Garden at Boston Children’s Hospital. It was already dark when the nurse was able to accompany him to the garden. The next day he was able to go in the daytime and it was a tremendous treat. He had spent many days in the hospital room suffering from side effects due to chemotherapy and radiation to treat his cancer. Fernando was 16 years old when he was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma in March 2011. He fought together with doctors, nurses, and other staff at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital for almost four years. He died January 16, 2015.
When Fernando had to spend days in the hospital for complications from his treatment the nurses introduced him to the Prouty Garden. What a contrast from the maze of hallways inside the hospital and the room that felt to him like a prison. When the glass door opens you see the magnificent tree, the fountain, the flowers, grass areas with paths to walk, places to seat inside nature. It is like a beautiful dream in the middle of chaos. We were in awe every time we entered the healing peace of the garden. To Fernando and everyone in his family the Prouty Garden was an oasis. Walking around when we could, sitting with visitors, or alone, and taking pictures were a delight in the middle of the horrific battle we had to endure.
In 2014 after his second relapse Fernando had a few stays in the newly remodeled Oncology floor. We were able to use the small pocket garden in the floor. I don’t want to be ungrateful, but even though it is better than the hospital room, the small garden did not have the same effect of peace and healing that nature can bring in the Prouty Garden.
As a mother and citizen I am heartbroken at the thought of Boston Children’s Hospital losing this healing garden, which is an irreplaceable gem. My son is already gone, but how about the other children, teenagers and families that need this garden to help them go through their battles. I also feel sad for the staff that now can use this peaceful space to decompress during their breaks from a stressful job. I believe that having this space improves the quality of care they provide.
My son Fernando loved nature as many young people do. It was very therapeutic for him to spend time in the Prouty Garden. I can attest from my experience that there is no comparison between the Prouty Garden and the small pocket garden/play space areas. They have a different purpose. Those areas are good but can never give the same healing and peaceful effect that the Prouty Garden can give to the staff, families and patients at Boston Children’s Hospital.