Wow! Time flies, well sometimes. February is officially closing up shop and the lucky shamrocks and pots of gold are beginning to fly…or do they just fall from the sky…a very deep question indeed. My gnome making factory re-commenced, and a new army of those cute little beard clad cuties has taken over my house! Intervention time!!
I haven’t written much about my daughter and her experience with cancer, but I will eventually. It was life changing, for all of us. Some days, my girls remind me of little old ladies because of the way they talk about their friends being sick or having issues with something. It’s kind of like when you overhear your grandparents talking about Edna’s arthritis or Bob’s diabetes flaring up and hoping that they don’t catch what their friend Fred has because it’s nasty….at least no one is discussing their hemorrhoids…yet! It’s funny, but it’s also sad because they had to grow up way too fast. What’s worse, is that it’s kind of hard to miss when you talk to them. Too bad we can’t rewind those clocks and reclaim their youth!
Yesterday, call it luck or maybe fate, we got a call from our local Make-A-Wish Foundation. We have been receiving calls from them over the past couple of years, but this one surprised us because it was kind of out of the blue. Remember that, ‘out of the blue’, ’cause that’s how they roll…or so I’ve heard!
I believe in super heroes
Now, I’m sure that many of you have heard of this crazy amazing organization and what they do. What I don’t know is, how many truly understand the impact that they have on the families and kids they grant wishes to. I can tell you without a doubt, these folks are as close to what people call ‘angels’ as you can get. I can also tell you with honesty, that they kind of scare the shit out of me! Not in a bad way, but an AMAZING way!
The things that these folks pull off, is nothing less than extraordinary. If you’re not impressed by their gusto, then I highly doubt that Superman flying in with a gazillion dollars tucked into his jock strap, with a fancy hot pink Maserati, a mansion with a pool and more chocolate than you can eat in a lifetime strapped to his back, is ever going to tickle your fancy! Anyway, you never know when these folks are going to strike (as I’ve heard), or to what lengths they will go for a child. I swear, they should wear capes and have the keys to every city, no joke. They’re modern day super heroes!
When Caelan was diagnosed, we were told that she qualified for a wish. Yes, a wish. No, she didn’t rub a lamp, well I don’t think she did. I will tell you this, no parent, wants to hear that their child qualifies for a wish. Trust me on that, it isn’t great news. I’d gladly trade the wish, in exchange for my child never having had cancer because these wishes are granted to very sick children (think ill enough to cause death). No one wants their child to be that kind of or any kind for that matter, of sick. I think you follow me on that one.
This wonderful organization cares enough about kids like Caelan and wanted to work with her to find out what her wish was and make it come true. If you’ve never read about the wishes that they’ve made happen, you really should. Grab a box of Kleenex though before you do. It’s crazy what they come up with and what they do for children and their families. Think astronomically mind blowing.
Why am I bringing this up? Well…Caelan hasn’t made her wish yet.
I wish I may, I wish I might…
Why? Well, I’ll get to that. But first, I think it’s safe to say that it’s time. It’s been almost 4 years (crazy, right?) and I think that this is how we need to end this chapter in her life and move on. We have the time to dedicate to just that and I feel like it’s an integral part of the healing process for her. Our lives are finally becoming one of normalcy again, and Clem and I have been feeling like it’s just that time. We started to discuss this in December actually, so it was a surprise to hear from Make-A-Wish yesterday.
Before Lea was diagnosed, (only 2 months after Caelan finished treatment and got the green light) we thought we’d give ourselves a bit of time before jumping into the wish discovery process. As I will explain in the upcoming future, Caelan’s cancer journey was a whirlwind. When your medical team tells you that things won’t fully hit you until after everything is over, take heed. You WILL be knocked on your ass, and you WILL be knocked hard. I can only describe this kind of ‘knocking’ as, ‘I hope you can afford them there purdy teef (teeth) and an ass donut.” because that’s exactly how I felt, shortly thereafter.
Before we started the ‘wish process’, we wanted to be back to nearly full strength to fully enjoy the experience, but as ‘luck’ would have it, we were blindsided by my sister’s diagnosis. Being thrown right back into the ring with something akin to Mike Tyson and all that comes with that, before pursuing the wish, stole the time and energy we wanted to pour into the process. All of the excitement surrounding it, gone. It sucked for everyone, and I am in no way blaming my sister for any of this. In fact, I think having gone through all of the things we have, has made this wish even more of a treasured gift.
All things considered
As we’ve been throwing around the idea of starting the process once again, Caelan has been wracking her brains to figure out just what that her wish is. Trying to convince her to just start talking to the Make-A-Wish folks has been the difficult part. She has no idea what she’d wish for and I don’t envy her for that! Can you imagine?
This is a huge, and I mean a HUGE question! I mean, think about it!
Obviously, there are stipulations, such as no money, no pool, no medical treatments, no pets, etc. That’s where Caelan has struggled the most. When she was going through treatment, we’d often talk about what she’d wish for. In that moment in time, we were talking with a child who couldn’t do ‘monkey bars’ (she LOVES them, think hardcore American Ninja Warrior Jessie Graff fan), due to the PICC line in her arm and was limited in what she should, could or felt like doing. She couldn’t swim (she LOVES that too), often didn’t have energy and her mental state from the treatments and having the disease itself, had totally sunk her.
Caelan went from wanting an American Ninja Warrior course in her backyard, to one at the school or in the community for the kids who helped her through, all the way to wishing there was a cure for my sister or even a wish for her to share with her family.
All of this, limited her childhood experiences exponentially at that time. Believe me, she had nothing but time to dream about all of the things she wished she could to do but couldn’t. And that also led to her thinking about all of the other kids who couldn’t do many of these things because of their situations, some being permanent.
These experiences and moments that Caelan was dealing with at the time, was reflected in the different wishes she considered, one of them being a cure for cancer. All of her wishes at that time, were for other’s benefit, not just her own. She was 6 years old, and I can’t tell you how sobering it was to hear that come out of my own 6 year old’s mouth, while she was the one going through all of that shit. She and Lola often talked about this wish, and it was astounding the things those two would come up with. I think that sometimes the worst brings out the very best in some people, my daughters and my sister are both examples of this.
I’d never given any thought as to how the kids made their wishes, I only thought about how deserving they were and felt joy that they were able to have those opportunities to create phenomenal memories. Some of the wishes that I’ve seen granted, have been set in the most dismal situations, in regards to terminal illness. I can’t even imagine. When the idea of a wish came up though, I’d never considered the weight of having to make this kind of decision.
Up to this point, our kids had never been on a plane and had never gone anywhere that we couldn’t reach by car…
As you can probably understand, making a decision of this magnitude with everything changing all around you and influencing your choices constantly, becomes an interesting journey of introspection and self-discovery. Now try doing this at 6 years old! Ha ha! That said, Caelan knows that she is beyond lucky and is also more than grateful for this opportunity, which is why she has put so much thought into it. She doesn’t want to throw it away.
Caelan went from wanting an American Ninja Warrior course in her backyard, to one at the school or in the community for the kids who helped her through, all the way to wishing there was a cure for my sister or even a wish for her to share with her family. Over time, many different things have come up, and Caelan has been struggling with trying to make a decision. She barely knows herself (who knew who they truly were at 6 years old, let alone 10?), she is very compassionate and she understands the significance of this opportunity. At her age, with her limited experience, she has thrown around many an idea, but has yet to settle.
Up until that point, our kids had never been on a plane and had never gone anywhere that we couldn’t reach by car, so Clem and I decided to plan a trip. It took all of that chaos, to convince me that putting my kids on an airplane was worth the risk ha ha, yes, I hate flying! Anyway, we took our kids to Aruba for two and a half weeks, and it was the best vacation EVER! We hit the beach, we swam, snorkeled, ate amazing Aruban food, experienced the amazing sights, learned many new things, and we finally felt like a normal family again. It was glorious!
That experience alone, changed our girls and opened their eyes. I am so happy we did it. It was also the recharge that we desperately needed as well. Clem and I had also hoped, that after going to a different country and experiencing travel that it might help Caelan decide what she’d like to wish for. I’m happy, but I’m sad to say, it’s only added to her indecisiveness!
Enjoy the moment and don’t overthink it
In the last while, Caelan’s wish had included her Aunt Lea and sometimes I wish we’d pursued this gift sooner. Easier said than done though unfortunately. Everything had been falling apart, literally and I think the mindset would’ve overrun the whole experience. My kids have been through so much in such a short time, I’d really just like to see both of them happy.
After yesterday’s call, I see the excitement returning. ‘Out of the blue’, Make-A-Wish called us to see if we’d like to take the opportunity to go out for an evening and do something many will never experience. It’s beyond gracious that they even thought to call and extend the invitation because this experience is just absolutely out of this world awesome!
I think the most exciting part is that Caelan is the one running the show, and we told her she gets to choose who gets to experience it with her. Her first choice was Lea, obviously, but she really doesn’t require a spot per se (I don’t think we can sneak my sister’s urn into where we’re going ha ha!). If you haven’t figured it out yet, I do have a very morbid sense of humor! Caelan is very family oriented and wants the 4 of us to go, and has invited her grandparents (my folks) and her uncle (my little brother) as well. I don’t think my brother will be scraped off the ceiling any time soon, but we have something exciting to look forward to shortly. Thank you Make-A-Wish, for re-lighting the spark that went out in our life.
I’m certain, that with our Wish Coordinator’s help (yes, that’s her job title!), Caelan is going to have an amazing experience. I reminded her today, that it’s not just the wish that truly matters, but the memories of the experience that does, and that there is no right or wrong choice. It’s all about her. She fully agrees with me and I hope that she enjoys every part of the amazing journey that this wonderful organization is giving her. All that said, I think we’re ready to start the process and have this exciting moment happen in Caelan’s life, and it all starts with answering just one little question.
If you were given one wish, (and let’s say in this instance) without restriction, what would you wish for?
If you were in Caelan’s shoes, (restrictions include: no cure/treatments, money, pools, or pets) what would you wish for?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!