Hubby Bill and I are thrilled to participate in the Special Love, Inc. sponsored Parent Get-Away Weekend in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. Riding up the elevator to my hotel room after a break-out session with other parents like me, a woman not associated with us asked us if we were there for a conference. Our artwork and Special Love folders we were holding were dead giveaways.
No one said anything to her at first, indeed not the parents of a newly diagnosed child cancer patient, and no one could/would speak up or squeak out an answer. As the elevator lifted us to the higher floors, I finally told the woman that we were here with an organization that helps families with childhood cancer and beyond. It’s not a club or conference anyone wants to join.
Without missing a beat, the woman said she “got it,” as her sister has three disabled children. The other two couples' eyes said it all as they held their breaths until the elevator pinged, and the woman clicked her heels to disembark before the rest of us did on higher-numbered floors.
Once she exited, we all broke out into chuckles of laughter. It was the right emotion to ease the uneasiness and tension built in less than a minute.
The parent committee that I am honored to be on works with the staff at Special Love to host this wonderful respite weekend. Weary parents and caregivers that live around the DC/Baltimore Metro areas and Southern Virginia come to meet new people and take a breather from their chaotic home life. It’s all a part of the self-care designed for the parents to feel refreshed, even for one weekend a year.
I’m glad this program is back; it is the first in-person retreat since November 2019.
The jam-packed weekend is chock-full of guest speakers, art therapy, in-the-round conversations with parents whose kids are in treatment, and a bereaved parent discussion. We also provide yoga, crafts (card making), makeovers, and messages.
We are fed and pampered here at Tyson's Hyatt. The pampering goes hand in hand with the committee's mission is to help renew parents' energy and to know they are not alone on this seemingly lonely path. I hope many leave this weekend with hope, renewed strength, and a few new strategies for dealing with life’s messiness.
Photos of our art "Healing Cells" led by Art Therapist Tracy Councill of Tracy's Kids