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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Okay, I think I'm coming to accept that it's difficult for me to find time to blog these days. But, here we go.

To update about Make-A-Wish, we had a big reveal party for Matthew at the Wishing Place. It was really neat. He got to raise a star to add to the star sculpture on the ceiling, and it will stay there forever. Then, we went up to the Wishing Room, he unlocked it, and inside was the Wishing Wizard! He did not expect that. He wasn't sure what he thought of the guy, but he talked with him. He made sure to stay far enough back that the wizard couldn't grab him. They had a nice talk, and reviewed Matthew's wishes. The wizard told him he was going to be able to go to Disney World and meet Mickey Mouse and see his castle. After chatting for a few minutes, Matthew gave him a hug, and we went downstairs for cake and festivities, which included face painting and balloon tying. It was a lot of fun. Then, we got to go out back and throw coins into the wishing well.

So, with all of that said and done, tomorrow we leave for Florida. It has taken a lot of waiting to get to this point. The last few months have been really rocky, and knowing that this trip was on the horizon often kept us going. We realize that we will come back to all of the same problems, but it will be with a renewed sense of wellness, and family togetherness, which we currently stand very much in need of. Not that our family is splintering, or anything, we just need a few days to connect, without all of the outside stresses bearing down on us. That's what family vacations are for, right?

I keep hearing, over and over, that when you're on a wish trip, they totally roll out the red carpet for you. You don't have to wait in lines, the kids are showered with gifts, it is completely stress free. So far, that has been very true. We didn't have to do any planning. We have just packed our bags, and tomorrow, we will show up at the airport. When we arrive in Florida, someone will be waiting at the airport with a sign that has our name on it to take us to our rental car.

When we leave the airport, we will drive to Give Kids the World (or GKTW for short). In a previous blog entry, I said that was inside of Disney World, but I was mistaken. Give Kids the World is a separate resort, or theme park, if you will. It was built specifically for wish kids, not just with Make-A-Wish, but with multiple wish granting organizations throughout the country. The only way you can stay in the GKTW village is if you are with a wish child. The accommodations are a 2 bedroom villa with a kitchen and laundry room. It's built like a village, and the mayor of the town is a rabbit, named Mayor Clayton, who will come and tuck the kids in at night, if you sign up for it. There are restaurants, a wonderful pool area, miniature golf, and snack carts with delivery. Everything is free.

GKTW is within a 15 minute drive of Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World, all of which we will get passes for. You are given a button to wear, to identify yourself, and the parks bend over backwards to make it special for wish families.

We're all packed and ready to go now. Just winding down for the evening. Our flight leaves at 6 am tomorrow, so we need to be to the airport by 4. It'll be a long day, but by this time tomorrow, we'll be in our little villa in Kissimmee, Florida.

The other thing on my mind is this. On this day last year, Justin and I both had strong suspicions that Matthew had cancer, but didn't want to alarm each other, so we hadn't talked about it. We were waiting for his fever to go back up to a high enough temperature to justify taking him to another ER, so that we could have some answers. I can't speak for Justin, but I felt desperate at this point, for someone to figure out what was wrong with my baby and help him. The ER doctor was the sixth doctor to see him for his infection in a month of infection, fevers, weight loss, poor appetite, and lethargy.

We will be on our trip when the 1 year anniversary of Matthew's diagnosis hits. He was diagnosed on July 13th, 2011. Most families take this time to allow themselves to reflect, mourn what has changed, grieve what's been lost. Even if the outcome has been the best possible outcome, nothing will ever be the same, right?

But, cancer has already taken enough from us. It's not going to steal our happiness while we're on this trip. Instead, I want to celebrate Matthew's life on July 13th. Matthew has fought a hard battle, and so far, he has been successful. He is a different child than he was a year ago, in many ways, but in many others, he is unchanged, unblemished by this awful thing that was thrust on him. His sweet nature, and charismatic personality is still in tact. On Friday, July 13th, we will celebrate his life. May it be long and healthy!