Friday, May 6, 2011

Better Together (Wish Trip Day 2)

Danica is sitting here on my bed playing with her jewelry box. She loves to go through her treasures one by one and finger their brilliance. To a little girl, these baubles are as valuable as the most precious stones in the world. She winds the little silver knob on the back over and over watching the ballerina with the filmy pink skirt dance to the simple notes of Fur Elise. I often tune in and out listening to her childish jabbering. My ears perked up as I heard her telling a story about the ballerina. " . . . She never had any surgeries so she could do whatever she wanted like dance and twirl, and bop a balloon, and jump up and down. She could even run . . ." I interrupted her. "Danica, honey, you know mommy wishes you could do those things too. You are healing every day and soon I know you will be allowed to." She replied, "I REALLY want to just run." My heart hurt in that mother way. The way every part of your being melds into a yearning the child you gave life to could have every single wish come true.

Day 2 of our trip we woke early to a very hot sun. We headed out in the village to see what Disney characters would be there. One of the many wonderful things GKTW does is host meet and greets with real characters from the theme parks just for the families staying there. We heard there were two very special guests waiting on stage inside the Safari Theater. On our way we met Belle, Pluto and Goofy. The girls got the first of many signatures in their autograph books, a special gift delivered to our villa from our friends, the Rogers. There was plenty of time to chat and give hugs and take photos. Meeting Mickie and Minnie that morning was one of the highlights of our entire trip. It was the perfect way to begin our day since we were headed to Magic Kingdom. After all the excitement we went to the Gingerbread house for a good breakfast. This is one of the special restaurants at GKTW. It is a cafeteria style place funded by Perkins with lots of yummy choices and staffed by so many amazing volunteers. All our meals at the village were completely free. After we ate the girls took another carousel ride. (I wish I had thought to count how many times they actually rode that thing while we were there.) We were headed to one of the most magical places on earth, but we felt a pull like we would have been just as happy to stay right there.

Driving up to the meca that is Disney takes your breath away a little. When you drive under the sign before you branch off into one of the parks you get that goosebump feeling. The logistics of this massive place boggle my mind. You are reminded how huge it is and how smoothly it runs when you park and walk to the tram and then from there walk up to the monorail and from the monorail walk to the real entrance to the park and give them your fingerprint and slide your tickets through. The girl's first glimpse of Cinderella's castle was so amazing. We pinched ourselves. This was real.

Before I go any further I will reiterate how little our family has done in the past few years and especially in the last 7 months. So, I guess you could say Disney was a little over stimulating for us. Another thing you should know is neither Dan nor I are "amusement park" people at all. A day of waiting in lines very close to people we don't know, eating marginal food that costs a lot of money and experiencing contrived rides and shows just doesn't appeal to us. I suffer from social anxiety that has increased since I have been at home so much. I am always thinking of how I would escape a large crowd of people and my chest gets a little tight and my mind starts racing. Dan was still really uncomfortable from his newly diagnosed physical issues. We went to Disney with no expectations about how much we would see or do that day or how long we would last. We were just going to see how it went.

We ended up getting to ride several really classic rides that were not bumpy and did not start or stop suddenly. Danica and Delaney truly loved the Teacups, the Dumbo ride and It's a Small World. An amazing part of our trip was a very special "Guest Assistance" pass I wore around my neck and a GKTW wish button Danica wore. These allowed us special access to everything with no waiting in lines. Even the character lines which were painfully long would see us and wave us over. Because of the heat, it was a high of 91 that first day, and our stamina, we would not have been able to enjoy the things we did without the blessing of a little "star" treatment.

We returned to GKTW late afternoon to rest and freshen up and ordered food to be delivered to our villa from Katie's Kitchen, the restaurant funded by Boston Market. The girls were especially excited because EVERY Thursday night at GKTW they celebrate Christmas. Santa comes and gives gifts to every child. They have carriage rides and a parade and all kinds of fun activities. While we were waiting the girls went to the La-ti-da spa in the Castle of Miracles. Danica had her nails painted and she and Delaney got airbrush tattoos. We also explored more of the village including Mayor Clayton and Ms. Merry's cottage in their garden, the amazing train inside the Amberville train station and of course, eating more icecream and riding the carousel AGAIN.

As the sun set, and we walked slowly back to what Danica called, "Our white Florida house," we felt like a "normal" family. The day wasn't perfect. We all had our moments. We were definitely tired and maybe even a little crabby, but we were together and had a day full of shining moments we would never forget. I thought about the pleasure our Heavenly Father felt watching us enjoy the good gifts He had given us. There were tornadoes and storms ravaging other states and Bin Laden was being killed and so many children and families trudging through appointments at hospitals and having surgery and treatments. Still, for a day the ugly, messy part of life felt very far away, and we were blissfully happy.


  1. Thank you for the wonderful video and shared details of your awesome trip. Your family journey is well received, appreciated and valued. Love, Katy xo

  2. Beautiful!!! So happy that you all had some dream come true moments!!!