june 10?

When I think about the date, June 10, nothing significant comes to mind. It’s not anyone’s birthday. It’s not a holiday. And I can’t recall anything significant happening on that day. But when I opened Facebook a few weeks ago, a memory popped up reminding me it was one of the happiest days during my 34 years. There weren’t any pictures to jog my memory. It simply read:

Today was the best day of my life!! Welcome home Jackson, welcome home!!!”

Six years ago on June 10, 2011, after open heart surgery and almost two months in the Cardiac ICU, Jackson was discharged from the hospital and we brought our baby boy home. It’s not a day that sticks out in my mind because while I was thrilled to finally have all four of us under one roof, I was equally terrified.

My body wrestled with a mix of emotions daily. I was nervous to care for this fragile human being. Eric traveled for work and was gone most weeks, and this little life depended on me. The fear of the unknown with Jackson crippled me. I was emotionally and physically exhausted (as you can tell in the picture). His tiny heart required two medications daily. Dosing had to be precise and timely. Forgetting wasn’t an option.

I felt like the weight of the world sat on my shoulders.

With my anxiety growing each day and lack of sleep tearing my body apart, there was one thing, however, that I never worried about – our medical bills.

Oh, they piled up. Every day a new bill appeared in the mail whether it was for a doctor’s consult, an MRI or a medication his body desperately needed. And the sum total was a number that’s hard to comprehend. But, thankfully, between good insurance and a special program Wisconsin offered  to newborns at the time, we had little to stress about financially.

Unfortunately though, for many families, that’s not the case. When a mother should be nurturing a bond with her newborn or making lasting memories on the playground, she is inundated with bills upon bills. When a father and young son should be playing catch, dad is working extra hours to make ends meet at home. It’s a battle that can change the dynamics for families. The burden overwhelms and shadows the opportunity to relish precious, fleeting moments with their children.

As I’m sitting here planning Jackson’s Jam this year (mark your calendars…August 12), and I’m looking at this memory, I am reminded of why Eric and I chose to start JR Hearts. We were blessed in more ways than one, and we’re grateful we have an opportunity to pay it forward.

We can’t help everyone through JR Hearts, but we can help someone. And we’re in the process of doing that now!

Because of Jackson’s Jam success last year, and the generosity of numerous individuals and businesses, we have a beautiful family we are working with to help relieve some of the financial burden. Hopefully we can help them breathe a little easier so they can focus on what matters most. Stay tuned…I can’t wait to share more about them and their sweet child really soon!

We have a lot of work to do before August 12 raising more money to continue to help other families, but this is what we’re here to do. This is what makes my heart happy. The heartache never leaves me, but doing good in Jackson’s name is healing for my soul.

And while I think my sweet boy left this world way too early, my worst day was Jackson’s greatest day.

As he took his last breath, and entered Heaven, Jesus said the same thing I did.

“Welcome home, Jackson. Welcome home.”

“I will turn their mourning into joy and bring happiness out of grief.” – Proverbs 23:25