It’s been one year since Make-a-Wish Utah granted Patrick a trip to Disneyland. When I look back, in some ways it’s hard to believe a year has passed. But mostly, that seems like an eternity ago. So very much has changed in a year.
I’ll be honest. We have known for most of Patrick’s life that he was eligible for a wish. You don’t end up on a transplant list, really, unless your condition is considered otherwise terminal. But we were trying to put that off as long as possible. We wanted Patrick to understand that he was being given a wish. We wanted it to mean something. To not feel wasted on some passing childhood interest. And, more than anything, to be something he’d remember doing.
But two years ago, early in September, Patrick’s central line clotted, sprung a leak and was infected. They had to pull it, but then the surgeon couldn’t get a new one into place. We informed the transplant team of the difficulty. And they took his name off of the transplant list. Without a place for a central line above his heart, the transplant surgery would be impossible.
We’d known that scarred veins was a problem nutritionally. But we didn’t realize that it made the transplant surgery impossible. And we realized that we were at the end of a road.
The transplant team told us to get on a plane right away and we flew out to Omaha where some very brilliant and very brave doctors managed to get a new central line in place. But now we knew. We were that close to losing the only treatment option that didn’t end in Patrick eventually running out of good veins and starving to death.
And so – we made a palliative care and hospice plan. And we put in a request for Patrick to Make a Wish.
A year later, we headed to Orlando, Florida. That week was one of the most magical in our lives. We stayed at the amazing Give Kids the World Resort. We were given the royal treatment at Disneyworld and Universal Studios. We chased down characters for Patrick to meet. We rode roller coasters.
In the village, we celebrated off-season Halloween and Christmas, rode ponies, took carousel rides at almost every meal. We ate ice cream for breakfast. We ordered Patrick’s his first whole pizza. (Made entirely allergy safe and delivered to our door.) We raised a star in Patrick’s honor.
There is no way to describe in words what a wish trip is like. Honestly, other wishes sound cool. But the reason this one is so popular is that it is the ONLY thing like it.
Every child who is granted a wish by our chapter of Make-a-Wish raises a glass star to the ceiling of the Make-a-Wish building. Family and friends are invited for a special ceremony.
We never imagined that, before we’d be home long enough from our trip to schedule the star-raising ceremony. Yet, found myself on the phone with Patrick’s wish granters the day after his transplant telling them just that. We’d need to reschedule.
Because of recovery time and immune suppression, we actually didn’t get around to that star-raising party until just last month. The experience was kind of surreal.
Being so much later, it was a bit nostalgic to be back in that building. They took Patrick’s guests on a tour of the building like the one we’d received when he made his wish. And then, they let him use his magic key to open the wishing room in their castle tower. We reenacted a bit for them what had happened as he made his wish.
When Patrick made his wish a year and a half ago, they invited grandparents and parents to make a wish on his behalf. Brian and I made what we felt were practical wishes.. For Patrick to live a happy and full life. (Knowing that it might be short.) Grandparents wished for Patrick to receive his transplant. And, honestly, I thought to myself, “I’m so sorry we’ve misled you. Patrick has waited too long. He’s been listed for most of his life. Almost a year and a half at the center that had promised a match before a year was over. It’s too late. That is why he is making this wish.”
And yet, last month there we were… standing in that same room. Patrick free from IV’s and most tube feeds. Having just gorged himself on McQueen cake. Transplant done. In essence, made whole.
I am a witness that prayers are answered. Miracles are real. Wishes come true.
Because we live in a mortal world where test and trial are necessary for our growth, that doesn’t mean that things are perfect. Perfection is something for the next life. But God’s power is very, very real.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to the wonderful people at Make-a-Wish for the unbelievable gift that they gave to us. To the angels at Give Kids the World to helped to make it come true.
Patrick decorated a glass star and then used a string and pulley to raise it to the ceiling. Fitting his style, they said he raised the start faster than any child they’ve ever seen. Almost not giving time to notice the lyrics to this song that they played. Almost. Which is good, because if you were listening it brought tears to your eyes.
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you.
If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do.
Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue
Suddenly, it comes to you
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true