Hayley Harrison and her family have been part of the Ronald McDonald House South Island whānau since 2014. Hayley shares her story.
Poppy’s favourite thing in the whole world is her twin sister Willow; they’ve got a special bond that is just unexplainable. Our twin girls were born five weeks premature. This was the first of what unbeknown to us, would be the first of many stays at Ronald McDonald House South Island. When the girls turned three, Poppy became really unwell with septicemia and from this point we began fighting “health fires” on all sorts of fronts.
We are what we like to call ‘transient residents’ at Ronald McDonald House in Christchurch. Poppy’s medical condition is complex and there have been times when we’ve had to turn up at Ronald McDonald House in really tough situations. Being able to be together has for us been almost healing. Poppy seems to somehow make improvements when we are all together, especially when she is with Willow.
Poppy made her first real friend at Ronald McDonald House. Having been so sick for so long, her contact with other children was limited. One day she met Frieda, a sister of one of the other children in the House. From that moment on they were besties, each girl lighting up when they saw the other. I’ll never forget the day that Frieda jumped on Poppy’s knee and together they made Poppy’s wheelchair do donuts around the kitchen. It was hilarious and there was a real joy in such a simple friendship.
For us the House has meant connection. To be able to be together as a family and to be with other families going through a similar journey has given us a real sense of connectivity in what could otherwise have been some pretty dark times.
It’s the staff at Ronald McDonald House who foster this ‘togetherness’. To walk through the door of the House and have a familiar face at the front desk asking how Poppy was and how we were, was pretty special. Poppy would get blown loads of kisses which were always gratefully received and enthusiastically reciprocated.
The community support for this incredible place blew us away. From the people who volunteer to cook dinner to those who sponsor rooms, people are so incredibly kind
and generous. This is one of the things that make the House an oasis where we can go, focus on our girls, relax and let ourselves recover from whatever has happened up at the hospital that day.
Nobody understands Poppy better than Willow. Their bond is unbreakable. And that is what Ronald McDonald House has given us access to. It’s given us the means to be together and for that we are thankful.