Many of us have heard of Make a Wish Foundation. Some of us have even donated a buck or two and gotten to write our name on a paper Make a Wish star in IHOP or K-Mart. How many of you know a child who’s wish was granted? I never knew or heard of anyone who had. But we actually had the privilege of being sent to Disneyland by Make a Wish Foundation several weeks ago. And now that the dust has settled and almost all of our bags are unpacked I would like to pull out my proverbial photo album and give you a glimpse into what it is like to have a wish granted
When I was in high school, I was involved in a community service club called REACH. I was president of this dying club and basically had to bribe all ten members with pizza in order to get them to participate in anything. But I was able, on several occasions, to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation. In those days, I thought of how terrible it must be to have a child with a terminal or life-long condition and how blessed and honored I was to be able to raise a couple hundred bucks toward making wishes come true for these kids. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my own child would one day be a recipient of a Make a Wish wish. But I am so immensely humbled by the generosity of this foundation and what they did for my family.
The past three and a half years have been one of survival for us. Since Jack’s diagnosis of Congenital heart defect and Pulmonary Vein Stenosis, our life has been about surgeries, hospice, medical flights, chemo, heart catheterizations, tests, waiting, hoping, worrying, praying, begging, waiting, waiting, waiting. We left our home and the life we loved and moved to another coast with another set of humans we never knew. No job, no home, no friends, no family. Just hope that our move will be the thing that will keep little Jack alive and keep our family from crumbling apart. Many of you know about our journey to this place and what it has meant for us. It has been terrible. It has been wonderful. The isolation and worry has been like a tangible creature, looming over us. The joblessness and vulnerability; the shame from excepting help from others has broken our hearts and stripped our dignity. Basically, since Jack’s diagnosis we have been humbled, poured out and left to the mercy of a God who loves us enough to permit such painful things to touch us.
When we were told that Jack qualified for Make a Wish, I was undone. After yers of struggle, we would have a respite from our “normal” life and get a vacation. I knew that going to California on a plane and doing Disneyland with four kids would be challenging but I also knew that this was just what we needed the most. We were put in touch with the local chapter of Make a Wish Foundation and the plans were made for a Disney trip in California with several days afterward to race up to Northern California to see our family and friends. It had been nearly three years since we had seen everyone. The months of planning dragged on as we became more and more excited about seeing our friends and family and Mickey too, of course.
The Make a Wish workers were so kind and generous in their attention to our family. They arranged for a limousine to pick us up from our home and drive us to the airport at the wee hours of the morning. It was so early that the kids barely knew nor cared that we were in a limo, they just snored in luxury till we arrived at the airport.
The flight was long and not without many high stress situations. Jack was very excited and hyper beyond belief, kicking with great gusto the seats of the Asian college students in front of us. His joy dissolved into panic and rage when he realized that he would have to remain in the seated position for the next 6 hours. He then proceeded to have a melt down and a significant nose bleed.
After a lay-over in Dallas we re-boarded the plane. The children were assigned seats away from Andrew and I, including Jack who was seated between two strangers. The flight would not rearrange seating. Luckily the passengers were obliging and did some trading with us until the kids were at least near Andrew. I was at the back of the plane with baby Jamie.
Things were going well-ish until William came to my seat with a look of abject panic and told me that he couldn’t breath. Somehow this non-asthmatic child was mustering up an asthma attack right there on the plane. I rushed him into the bathroom and somehow managed to squeeze himself and I in, extract the albuterol inhaler I keep for my allergies, and pump his lungs full until he could again breath. This lasted only a short time and by the end of the flight his pallor was grey and his wheezing was alarming.
Somehow, we managed to carry our mountains of luggage through LAX and onto the shuttle bus that would take us to our rental car. William was struggling for breath as the bus driver weaved violently through traffic, causing him to projectile vomit all over himself and the seat next to him. The awful bus ride was over and we gathered the baby, the toddler and our other two children in addition to the luggage and somehow made it into the lobby of the car rental agency. William was turning a lovely shade of green and I began to believe that we would need to check him into the hospital before we could even check ourselves into our hotel room. He sat on a ripped leather sofa, tilted his poor head back, crossed his eyes, and fell asleep with his lids open just enough to show that he was sleeping with crossed eyes. One hour (and a screaming toddler) later, the rental car was secured and ready to drive away. We loaded our bedraggled crew into the van and prayed that our trials would soon be over. We checked into the hotel and found that for all six of us we would have to sleep in two beds though we were told we would have two adjoining rooms with a total of four beds. We were given only one room. I began to look for directions to the nearest emergency room because William’s wheezing was becoming dangerously close to another asthma attack. At this point, I was beginning to think that our vacation was going to turn into a National Lampoon type fiasco and half expected to see Chevy Chase enter stage left.
Andrew told me that, what God intended for good, Satan was trying to destroy and that we should expect attack during our vacation. Counting it all joy when I face trials of various kinds is not my strong suite but I prayed through it and decided to tackle one problem at a time. I gave William an allergy med hoping that he was having an allergic reaction and would breath easily once the antihistamines kicked in. Then I called Make a Wish and described our room issue. I was a bit sheepish asking that we have the two adjoining rooms because, after all, we hadn’t paid for a penny of our trip and didn’t want to sound ungrateful. The lady I spoke with was shocked that we were all crammed into one room and was quick to fix the situation. William’s wheezing stopped and our sleeping arrangements were fixed. Bam.
I am getting tired just looking back on this.
This was the first leg of the journey and so very exhausting. Won’t you come on back for the rest of our great saga? Subscribe and don’t miss a thing.
photo credit to Unsplash