Everyone likes to hear about the big things, and so they should: the life saving equipment we provided with the money you raised, the baby who got to go home after months in neonatal care and the parents whose lives were transformed in an instant by the loss of their child.
But, what about the small things? Parents tell us that it’s so often the small things that they value: a recent appeal on Facebook for muslin squares saw over 300 of them arrive in our office - a small gesture that means so much to parents who are learning how to care for their premature or unwell baby and, like all new parents, need an endless supply of these! It’s also the small things that we celebrate and remember - when a baby pulls out it’s tubes or shows little glimpses of their personality, despite their fragility or illness, we get to celebrate their life.
I was sitting at my desk recently, with my back to the door, when I realised that someone was standing in the door way. I turned around and a very tall man was just standing there. He took a step forward and I asked if he was ok. He said, solemnly, 'my son died here three days ago and I came to say thank you’. I was taken aback momentarily, and then I asked him his sons name and we spoke about him, we talked for a long time about all the things that his baby boy had taught him and he thanked us for our care and kindness over the months that his son was in the neonatal unit.
He was overwhelmed by the strength and bravery of our nurses and doctors and he talked about how his baby, in his life that was so unfairly cut short, had taught him more than he’d ever learned in all the years previous. As the tears were streaming down his face he reached into his pocket and pulled out a muslin square. It had been in his son’s incubator with him and it was there to wipe away his tears in his sorrow and grief. It gave him comfort.
Whilst he was so grateful for the big things: the incredible work of our nurses and doctors, the financial support we could provide, the amazing equipment we have at the John Radcliffe, I was so grateful for the little things: for the person who had decided to respond to our appeal on Facebook for muslin squares. It’s a small gesture that made a big difference.