Charlie and Nehemiah

Living Full Lives (The Salchert Family Story)

January 5th, 2023

“We began our foster care/adoption journey in 2012. Given that we have medically complex/fragile children, we are frequent flyers at Children’s Wisconsin and the Ronald McDonald House®. What a gift both places continue to be!

This past November into December, our Charlie was inpatient in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). It was exhausting, and not knowing whether his lungs and body would survive his illness was emotionally challenging. Yes, we’ve been doing this a long time and roll like a BOSS with a lot, but like the Grinch, our hearts have grown three sizes bigger over the years. We love our kiddos deeply and are fully invested.

Charlie and Nehemiah

Charlie (L) and Nehemiah

December 2 was the one year anniversary of the death of our precious Nehemiah. He brought the biggest smiles and such light to our lives. We’re terribly sad that he’s gone but we’re so grateful he lived! We were given two and a half years with him. We’d never in a million years wish him away to save ourselves the tears that fall now.

Charlie was inpatient just a few doors down from where Nehemiah spent his last days in the hospital before coming home on hospice in 2021. I wanted to do something constructive with my grief as the anniversary date approached.

A friend asked me if I would go to a bar. I needed my mind right, so that option wasn’t given any more than a nanosecond’s worth of consideration and then discarded. Instead of drowning my sorrows, I decided to make fresh bread and tomato soup for the staff at the Ronald McDonald House and the nurses/staff on W4 who had cared for Nehemiah in 2021, and were presently taking care of Charlie – who has since recovered and is doing quite well!

There have been a lot of “no’s” in our history. No, there aren’t any more treatment options. No, your child will not recover.

However, when I asked the House Managers on shift if I could do some excessive baking in the 2nd floor kitchen, the answer was a resounding “Yes!” Could I borrow a crockpot for the soup? “Yes!” Could I use the mixer that was donated in Nehemiah’s memory the year before to help get the bread making process started? “Yes!”

finished bread

The positive responses, enthusiasm and support of my idea was a balm to my grieving soul. Kneading twelve loaves of bread that day was cathartic. I did keep the tears that fell in the process from landing on the baking surfaces.

We have endured great suffering and loss, to be sure. But, when I look back on the beauty, sweetness and relationships we’ve been given because of choosing to nurture our kiddos for the limited time we have with them, it’s apparent our lives are so very FULL. As my Italian friend says, with sweeping hand gestures and emphasis, “You live LARGE!” Yes, we do. RMHC® is one of the reasons we can do what we do as well as we do it.

Thank you, thank you for the ways you all support the House. It makes a world of difference for those of us privileged to call it our ‘Home Away from Home.’”

-Cori Salchert

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