There are no words to express the feelings and thoughts that are provoked being inside a hospital, but there are even less words to describe the feelings and thoughts provoked seeing your child inside a hospital. My son was 18-months-old the first time we stepped foot inside Boston Children’s Hospital after traveling from Florida. I was unsure of what his future would hold for him and I was trying my best to be strong. After an invasive and life-changing surgery, he underwent 6 days of chemical paralysis. Although I will never know what he was thinking during that time, I will never forget what I was thinking. I watched as he swelled filled with fluid and every day seemed to be another setback – maybe tomorrow they will be able to wake him up. I missed him imitating animal sounds and his sweet, little voice calling me “Momma,” but all I could do was wait until the doctor’s thought he was ready. In the meantime, and even throughout the next several weeks of recovery, I spent many hours in the Garden.
Prouty Garden was a place of relaxation and peace, quiet and calm. At a time when I had nothing left to do but watch my son under heavy drugs and unable to move or talk or be the child he was, I found peace in the Garden and the nature it captured. Throughout his recovery, my son could not wait for those few hours every day where he would ride in the wagon down to the Garden. My mom would join both of us as we laid a blanket down in the grass and sang songs, walked countless circles along the path and looked at the birds and squirrels, and said prayers for those landing on top of the building in the helicopter. It was only in that Garden that Cayson was able to be a child again until he was released from care. There were no monitors constantly beeping and no nurses rushing around outside your window and he was able to crawl around – just nature and quiet laughter.
Aside from peace, Prouty Garden brought hope. In the hours spent there we were able to interact with other patients and their families. We met one boy, also from Florida, battling cancer. We now follow his healthy life on Facebook as his fight is a thing of the past. We also met another little boy, 3 years older than my son that shared my son’s battle. They were both diagnosed with a very rare “situation” and the other little boy seemed to be doing great. Cayson was a little behind physically at the time, but watching the other boy run around and play baseball with his parents gave me a sense of hope that Cayson would too be there one day. Having the chance to interact with this family and hear their story gave me the courage I needed to face Cayson’s future and know he would be okay. These interactions would have been nearly impossible enclosed in the hospital room walls.
The Prouty Garden is not just a garden. It is a safe haven to hundreds of families that do not know what will happen in the days to come. It is a small, but much needed, glimpse of life outside a hospital room and bed. It is peace for parents when they are tired of pretending to be Superman for their child. But most importantly, the garden is a place of peace for those children who need to be just that - children.