While no parent wants their child to qualify for Make-a-Wish, it is an experience that I wish every child could have! It has sparked something in Graci that is so wonderful. Just few weeks ago it was, “Why does everything bad happen to me? Why does my heart have to be broken? Why do my legs not work right? Why do I have to wear oxygen all the time? Why has my life been so hard?” Last night as we were pulling into the driveway after her wish, she said, “Mommy, sometimes you know how I wish I had different challenges? Like it would be so nice to be Jesi or Xander and have their challenges? And then sometimes you are glad you have your challenges because Heavenly Father knows what you need? I think my challenges are perfect for me.”
That is what Make-a-Wish has done for her.
I promised Grace that I would write about everything that happened last night—so here is my best shot:
The afternoon got off to a tough start. I had Graci come to the computer and look at some of the wishes other children had made, hoping to spark some ideas. There was one girl who had wished for an outdoor princess playhouse. It was pink and complete with bay windows and a loft and everything—and was super cute. She fell in love. Unfortunately, Jeremy and I both agreed that it just wouldn’t fit in our yard. At all. Graci was fighting tears as we explained this. However, Daddy got a smile out of her when he promised that if we ever move to a bigger property and there is any possible way he could afford it, he would build her a playhouse. So before long she was back to her happy wishing self, though she still couldn’t decide on any one thing.
Soon, a very excited Graci was getting dressed in the outfit she has had planned for weeks! It was so cute that she cared so much about what she wore, how her hair looked, etc. We left plenty early to get to the wishing place, and it’s a good thing too! About 10 minutes into our drive, Graci said, “Um, Mom? I think I left my key at home.” I groaned inwardly, did a quick u-turn, and sped back to the house. She ran inside, and came back out empty-handed and sheepish-looking. “Um, Mom? I think it actually was in the van.” “Of course it was, Graci!”
We still made good time and she was giddy as we pulled in. After a few pictures, we went inside and Graci was thrilled to see a star with her name welcoming her!
We met our wonderful wish granters, Kent and Terri, and another sweet woman who works at Make-a-Wish. She explained how MAW began with a 7-year-old boy from Arizona who had cancer and wanted to be a policeman. The highway patrol was notified, and they had a special uniform made for him, picked him up in a helicopter, and allowed him to spend the day as a highway patrolman. The kids were very attentive and loved hearing about it. We were then taken to the wall of wishes, where the children who are currently in the wish process have their photos up. Graci’s will be there soon! At this point, we still didn’t know what Graci was going to wish for, so it was fun to see what other children’s wishes were.
We then went outside to the wish garden. Graci was given a token to toss in the water with a wish. She later told me that her wish was indeed, the Disney cruise. (:
The gardens were absolutely beautiful.
We were then led upstairs to play the wishing game. The kids loved it. Graci kept talking about it on the way home. The purpose of the game was to get her thinking about what she might like to wish for. During the course of the game, everyone had to come up with an answer to “If you could go anywhere… If you could be anything… If you could meet anyone… and If you could have anything.” It was so much fun to get inside everyone’s thoughts!
At the end of the game, the wish granters asked Graci if she had chosen her wish. I seriously had no idea what she was going to say. It has been a different answer almost every time I asked her! Just earlier that day she had said, “a peach tree!” And often she would answer, “more webkinz!” So I was relieved and excited when she very matter-of-factly answered, “A Disney cruise.” I think it fits Graci perfectly! None of us have been on a cruise before, so there will be the magic of doing something totally new. She has always wanted to go to a “warm beach.” The only beach we have taken our children to is the Oregon Coast, where Jer’s family is. We LOVE it there—it is breathtaking—but you can’t exactly spend much time in the frigid water. So the swimming part will be fun. She also LOVES LOVES LOVES to eat (you wouldn’t know from looking at her, but it’s true) and from what I hear, a cruise has PLENTY of food! Also, she likes to be independent, and I think the cruise will allow for some of that.
So… YAY!!! Good job, Grace!! I hope and pray it will be everything you dreamed of.
Her second and third choices were Disneyworld and Atlantis, either of which would be just as magical, I’m sure. She loves all things Disney. On Graci’s adoption day, we climbed into the taxi after signing papers and she immediately asked the guide in Chinese, “Ask them when we’re going to McDonalds and Disneyland!” Apparently, it wasn’t the smartest thing in the world to send pictures to her of our family with Mickey Mouse! She thought that Disneyland was going to be a regular occurrence! She wasn’t very happy to learn she needed to at least wait until her first open heart surgery and then until we could afford it. It was so much fun to finally take her there last year and she LOVED it! I’m sure Disneyworld would be even better. (:
After she made her wish, we were all given a little card to write what our wish for Graci was. We then went to the wishing tower. This is where she had to use her magic key.
In the wishing tower, we were asked to share our wishes for Graci. Jer and I had both wished for her to see President Monson (she later said she was very close to wishing for that), Taylor wished for her to have unlimited webkinz, Parker wished for her to have a shopping spree, Xander wished for her to have a poofy dress (he thought of that on his own—he really must have been paying attention!), and Jesi wished her to have a doll house for her animals and a “slide in our backyard that goes all the way to heaven so she can go up and see Heavenly Father and Jesus and then slide back down to be with us.” How precious is that…
Kent reading his wish for her to get healthy and board the cruise ship wearing the poofiest dress around. Love it.
Graci then followed the magical lights around the room that led her to the top part of the wishing wizard’s hat, where she inserted her wish. The lights then led her back to the hat. She put the top on and the room lit up like a rainbow (her favorite “color”). Magic.
After spending some more time looking at displays with other children’s wishes, we went downstairs to have refreshments. They had balloons and gifts for the children, and a special bag of gifts for Graci.
Graci could NOT stop talking on the ride home. She would be quiet for a few seconds, then say, “Mom, can you believe I got to throw a token in the wishing pond?” or “Mom, wasn’t that nice of Kent to wish I could have a poofy dress on the cruise?” or “Mom, didn’t you just LOVE that game?” She was so lit up. And really, the comment Jeremy already mentioned, about her asking me if I thought she was dreaming, sums up how she felt about the night.
Someone asked if our children all get to go on the trip. YES. Can you believe that? At a time when we couldn’t possibly afford something like this with the new adoption coming up, we get to go on an all-expenses-paid trip-of-a-lifetime. Our Father in Heaven is truly watching over us and our children.
We are, however, contemplating leaving Elli home with Grandma. We have always taken her with us everywhere, but we’re thinking that it would be a more relaxing and memorable trip for all of us, including Graci, if we didn’t have to worry about her. She can be very difficult in new situations. It’s killing me to consider leaving her, but I think it may be best. Anyone have any thoughts on that? We were so glad to have Jeremy's dad with us yesterday helping out with her so we could focus on Graci...
Oh, and one more thing I just thought to mention. There was a time several months ago where we were blessed with some extra finances. We gathered our older children and told them that we had enough money to go to Disneyland. (Insert huge grins). But we also knew of a family in need of something pretty big. We turned it over to them and they immediately chose helping the family. We were so proud of them and told them that we were sure that Heavenly Father was aware of their sacrifice. Just look at what He has blessed them with. (: (: (:
What a perfect night! I'm not sure how she ever fell asleep...