Stories of inspiration, hope, and love - written by a foster mother to beautiful babies, terrific teenagers and everything in between.
Psalm 113:9 - "He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD."
April 29, 2017
The Magic of a Wish
possibly be more magical than a Ball? The
sequins on my royal blue gown catch the sparkle from the crystal chandeliers
overhead, and it doesn’t seem real. I
feel like a common villager, trying to pass as a princess. I can hardly believe that I am the same
person who, just a few hours ago, was checking our son’s lab results, confirming
the next appointment with his specialist, and measuring out his daily medications. That was real life, messy and routine and
sometimes exhausting. But this opulent ballroom
with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and the small ensemble in the corner playing beautiful
classical music? This is magical!
help staring at our son all decked out in his black suit and tie – the first
one he has ever worn in his life – and admiring how dashing he looks.The blue sash across his shoulder, the one
with the words Wish Kid on it, make
him seem almost royal.He and the other
Wish Kids like him, are the reason everyone is here. We have been invited to this Wish Ball, an
annual charity gala to celebrate the wishes that have been granted to children
with life-threatening medical conditions.If the cost of admission is having a child with a life-threatening
medical condition, it is a steep one indeed!
It was just
a few months ago that our son had been granted his wish.After searching the depths of his
imagination, and considering all the wondrous possibilities, he had decided
that the one thing he wanted to do more than anything else in all the world was
to ride in a helicopter.He had seen the
Life Flight helicopter take off and land at the hospital where he has spent so
much of his childhood, and apparently, it had so fascinated him, that he wanted
to experience it for himself.
admit that I was a little disappointed at his choice.After all, how often does a child have such
an amazing opportunity to make a wish? This was his big chance!Why couldn’t he have chosen a cruise to an
exotic destination?Or a visit to a
magical kingdom?Or even, as he had
talked about on numerous occasions, a mission trip to serve those less
fortunate than himself? (1)
helicopter ride, unbeknownst to me, can indeed become a very big deal.Especially when the helicopter in question
belongs to a television station.The
small wish became a big news story, at least locally, accumulating thousands of
“likes” on social media.On Wish Day, as
the helicopter flew over the news stations, hundreds of well-wishers were standing
outside, waving and clapping and cheering for this brave boy who had captured
their hearts! (2)
For a child
who has experiences so many challenges and disappointments, the wish itself is,
of course, a dream come true.It’s a relief
from the constant reminders of the disease.It’s a spark of hope.It’s a rare,
beautiful moment of laughter and joy that can be captured and held in the heart
forever.Or, as in the words of my son, This is the best day ever!
What I did
not expect, what I could not have anticipated, was the impact that this one
small wish would have on so many people at the news station.The camera guy who interviewed us and spent
time filming our son, has since become so much more.He texts often to see how we are doing or to
send a note of encouragement when he knows we have medical appointments.Just last week he invited his new young
friend to spend the day with him at work at the news station.What started out as a news story has turned
into a lifelong friendship.
co-worker, an editor at the station, has also been unexpectedly impacted.Her job is so often filled with the worst of
the worst – crime and natural disasters and all kinds of bad news.Every day it’s the terrible, heart-breaking
events that make the headlines.So when
she was asked to help coordinate our son’s wish, she jumped at the chance.(Actually, what she said, in true Southern
style, was, H--- yeah!)It became, not a work project but a heart
project.What had originally been
intended to bring joy to a sick child, turned out to be the very thing that
brought joy to the person planning it!
know, there’s one in every crowd, right?The one person at work who is sort of grumpy and known around the office
as a curmudgeon.A good ol’ boy who has
worked there for at least a century, who takes life pretty seriously and doesn’t
smile much.Well, this guy didn’t stand
a chance against our son! Of all the
people involved in making this child’s wish come true, this man was, quite
unwittingly, the most instrumental.After spending a considerable amount of time with this irresistibly charming
8-year old boy, hearing his story, seeing first hand his unquenchable optimism,
this man’s heart, as his co-workers say, grew three sizes that day.
And here we
are now, several months later, celebrating a wish that has been memorable in so
many wonderful ways.I gaze around the
ballroom at the other guests who have also been invited.I am humbled to be counted among them.
the wealthy philanthropists and corporate sponsors who open wide their hands.Who give with abandon.The average cost of granting each child’s
wish is $7,500 – an astronomical amount of money, especially for families who
may be wondering how they are going to pay for their child’s medical bills!These children’s dreams would be impossible
to fulfill without the abundant generosity of these men and women.
the passionate volunteers who open wide their schedules.Who serve with abandon.They spend time with the children, getting to
know them, listening to their most heartfelt dreams.And then they work tirelessly behind the
scenes, raising funds, securing tickets, making reservations, getting waivers
signed, coordinating countless details.It
is their joy to bring wishes to life in a way that exceeds every expectation!
the kindhearted business owners who unselfishly donate their goods and services.The limousine driver who transports the kids
and their families to the destination of their dreams (or at least to the
airport).The restaurant owner who
provides meals for the families on Wish Day.The toy store owner who donates hundreds of dollars’ worth of toys,
games, and remote-control helicopters (of course), rivaling the most
extravagant birthday party.The
possibilities of giving are limited only by their imagination! (3)
the Wish Moms, mothers who, like me, love a child who is sick.Who have learned, reluctantly at first, and
then passionately, the vocabulary of diagnoses and treatment options.Who have walked the long sterile corridors of
the hospital, praying and crying.Getting
weary and discouraged, maybe, but never for one second giving up hope.
surprise to find out that I am a member of a sisterhood that, until a few minutes
ago, I didn’t even know existed! Oh, how
their strength and confidence inspire me!One dauntless Wish Mom speaks openly and honestly, saying, Every day my daughter is sick.Every day she is in pain. Some day this
disease will kill her.But one thing I
can say today, with absolutely certainty: She lived.I love that!Perhaps the goal, after all, is not to live long, but to live well!
beautiful people in the room, of course, are the Wish Kids themselves.They are the real heroes.Despite their young age, they have
experienced more in their short lives than many of us will face in our entire
lifetime!They are quite possibly the bravest
kids on the planet!Somehow they find
the strength to face each shocking diagnosis, each painful medical procedure,
each heartbreaking disappointment with courage, resilience and unwavering resolve.
And dare I
say wisdom?Oh, the wisdom these kids
have, well beyond their years!Is it because
they have spent their childhood surrounded by adults? One young man describes what it is like to
live with a life-threatening illness.Every day, he explains, is a challenge, for sure, but it’s just an
obstacle, and it will not define me. Hope, courage and wisdom all wrapped up in
invited to a Ball is like being in a fairy tale.Pressed tuxedos and shimmering gowns, tables
spread with delicious food and waiters carrying fluted glasses, lively
conversations and musical laughter.Surprisingly,
however, there is something even more magical than all of this.
our children’s excitement as their deepest dreams become a reality.Watching the heart of a curmudgeon become
soft. Connecting with valiant families
who are on similar journeys.Meeting
kind-hearted, generous people. Discovering,
perhaps for the first time, that we are not alone.That even on our darkest, loneliest days, there
are many people in our community who are cheering us on.