In a few hours Joyce and Ryan fly off to Australia to embark on a new journey in their lives. Who knows if or when we shall see them again.
As we say good-bye to Joyce we also think back to how and when we met. We did not meet under the best of circumstances, but together we made the best of what was before us. Joyce is a nurse and was a relief foster parent who put her full heart into what she does. As a nurse she could not ignore a little boy named James. While Joyce and I had seen each other a few times prior to our truly getting to know each other, it was not until James ended up in the hospital in the spring of 2007 that I got to know Joyce ... even then, it was only briefly and it was not until Matthew was born that we truly got to know Joyce who became James home nurse.
If my memory serves me correctly I recall the picture to the being that day that I first got to better know Joyce. Joyce popped in to see James before (or was it after) her work shift one floor above us. James was not looking to hot at the time and one of the PACE Team members was there reaccessing him. Of course Joyce, being an employee at the hospital, knew this person and together they had some medical discussion about James' current appearance (they were debating sending him back to ICU ... we ended up in the step-down ICU). Joyce spent some time chatting to James and to myself before she headed off.
I do not really recall Joyce visiting all that often while we were in the hospital, but yet she must have visited a few time for James quickly knew who she was and that she was a "safe" person. I clearly recall one evening Laura V was down for a visit and as we were chatting James suddenly became excited and began pointing out his window. Along came Joyce, dressed in her working clothes, looking like every other nurse on the floor ... but yet James knew she was not just another nurse ... she was Joyce. I will never forget that. At the time it was neat but didn't hold the significance it does now as I look back over time.
A couple months later James was further introduced to Joyce when just days before his brother Matthew was born she came to learn how to care for James so she could be his home nurse and take care of him while I was in the hospital and then caring for a newborn, and then she continued to come for the next several months until James ended up in the hospital again at the end of September. Our hospital meetings had been brief and polite, mostly health information related, but as the next couple months went by Joyce and I began to develop a friendship and a dear little boy helped to hold the bond between that friendship.
Although we had some struggles with the nursing agency that left us frustrated and upset to say the least, even causing Joyce in the end to quit her job ... it was worth it. At the time it didn't seem to be, but looking back and seeing how fortunate we were to have just Joyce caring for James and building a bond with him I wouldn't change it. Joyce became a very special person to James, special enough that after his first Whole Lung Lavage he would not let daddy stay with him so mommy could have lunch, but five minutes later when Joyce stopped by it was okay for mommy to go for lunch and Joyce to stay! :) The Lord also wisely chose to have James return to the hospital before a replacement nurse could be found for Joyce ... thus leaving James less confused as to why his extra stability and comfort had left and was replaced by several other people. Indeed, Joyce was a great blessing to our family during a trying and difficult time.
After James passed away our friendship continued and Joyce also continued her bond with our other children ... sometimes caring for them, often popping by. And then Joyce's life took on a new focus when everything finally became final with her adoption of Ryan. This new focus also involved a move and although it's taken much longer then Joyce anticipated, today that day has finally arrived when she will take her belongs and reestablish herself closer to her family ... which just so happens to be in Australia ... far away from us!
As Matthew's second birthday just passed Joyce and I were reminded that it was already two years ago that we truly met ... it's hard to believe how fast time goes, and how much life can change in a short period of time. Two years seems like a fair amount of time ... but in the big pictures it's so tiny.
Last week Saturday a few of us took some time out of our busy summer schedule to throw a surprise farewell party for Joyce ... we were mostly successful, she caught us in the act after we arrived so we didn't get to truly see her reaction ... but close enough.
Left: Surprise Joyce
Right: Laura (and Sara) making cold coffee (or should I say coffee-mocha milkshakes)
Hanging out and socializing ... inside away from all the mosquitos
And then this past Thursday night an Open House was held for Joyce and Ryan so people could stop by and say farewell
Good-bye Joyce and Ryan. We wish you safe travels. Since our relationship has been more MSN then social visits lately I guess that means that things won't change all that much ... but we shall miss being able to pop over for that cup of tea and chat ... and you do realize that I still have an awful lot of caffeinated tea bags her that you didn't finish!!! We truly wish you all the best in Australia and hope that we will be able to stay in touch in the future. We shall always remember you and your caring and giving manner.