It was the best because it was the day that my first child, my daughter Julia, was born. But it was the worst because due to difficulties during my wife's pregnancy, Julia was very ill and we weren't sure she would make it.
What followed were days and nights of sitting at Julia's bedside in ICU, asking impossible questions of doctors, crossing fingers during medical procedures, and staring at blinking numbers on machines, holding our breaths when they weren't working in our favor. In between our emotional peaks and valleys, my wife and I would look around the room at the other couples in our same boat to give and receive expressions of sympathy. Finally, after nearly a month of surviving on vending machine Pop Tarts and nurse's station apple juice, we were able to take our baby home. Some other couples in that room never got that opportunity.
By that point, I had been trying to break into the comics business for 4-5 years. After my experience of watching Julia fight with everything she had, I made a promise to her that I wasn't going to be satisfied with myself giving only half of an effort anymore. I somehow found another level of hard work that I didn't know existed, and now, 11 years later, Julia is a healthy and happy young lady and I'm a ten-year industry veteran. As much as I was there for her, she was there for me, and our family is that much stronger for it.
My wife and I were lucky in more ways than one. Not only did we survive, but our house was fairly close to the hospital so we were able to go back and forth and keep some semblance of normality. We also had a great support system of family and friends so we never had to worry paying our bills while not working or where our next meal would come from. I often think back to those other young couples in that ICU and wonder if they had what we had, if they were as fortunate.
I've heard about the Ronald McDonald House Charities all my life, but was never quite sure of what they did. When I found out that their mission is to provide a home-away-from-home experience for parents of children who are hospitalized, I identified with it immediately and wanted to help. Every holiday season and on my birthday, I ask my followers on social media to donate items to my local house, the Ronald McDonald House of Long Branch, NJ, and I am eternally grateful to all those who donate via my Amazon.com wishlist (click here to donate items!).