My Circle Of Life

$45 million or $100 million? As debates go on about the value of the property in question, all I know for certain is that it has become symbolic of the “circle of life” for our family. My family and I have been well served by the medical centers in this area. Novant (formerly Presbyterian) and CMC have figured healthfully and prominently in the lives of our family literally for generations. But there’s something special about the hospital on the hill in the center of Gaston. I have learned that “Gaston” means “guest”. In a real way, we are all guests to this life and passing through eventually to life of another kind on the other side. Gaston Memorial, parented by Caromont Health, is where the “circle of life” is personified for us. All three of our children, Anna, Alex, and Abigail, were born there. Anna, our first child, delivered our first grandchild child there this week.

Just a short time ago, our extended family was summoned to the Caromont emergency room as my father-in-love, Joel Carrigan, clinging to life upon arrival, graduated into eternity. After the valiant efforts of everyone from rescue squad members to firefighters to Caromont Health professionals to save him, his heart gave way as he entered into the arms of his Heavenly Father and his reward in heaven. We are grateful that everything possible was done to continue his life on this side of life’s circle. Grief followed along with an immense sense of loss mingled with gratitude for a life well lived.

Now, fast-forward exactly two weeks to the day and Ella Grace Branch, his first great-grandchild entered the world, born to Anna, and Mark, her strong, loving husband. As we waited for her life to begin outside the womb (where she was already very much a “life” and very much alive), complications ensued. Again, the Caromont health professionals raced effectively to action. After moments that teetered on the brink of life, she came gently into the world.
A new joy has entered our world. Now I understand why Zig Ziglar said, “Grandparents are the first toys that children learn to play with.” In a flash, Instagram pictures were Facebooked and Tweeted for all the world to see. To hold a baby with part of one’s DNA one generation away is an unparalleled experience. Carl Sandburg said it best, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”

I drove away last night and glanced back at the hospital. To my left on the far end of that side of the hospital stands the place where one dearly loved graduated into eternity. I glanced then to the far right end of the hospital to literally the last room on the right of The Birthplace. In that room was a brand new life, a new Branch, in the circle of life. “Ella Grace” means “a bright light of undeserved favor”. And she is indeed to those of us who love her. She will impact the world just as her great-grandfather did. And the circle of life continues full of meaning and purpose. The darker times give greater depth of joy to the brighter times that come. And everyone matters. And everything matters.Caromont

$45 million or $100 million? All the speculation pales in comparison to the value of living. To us, it is a symbol of the “circle of life”… priceless.

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