Last week Adler was granted his wish by Make A Wish to go to Disney World. We flew down after a limo ride to the airport and 2 hours later we were greeted by a man holding a sign that had Adler’s name on it from Give Kids The World Village. It’s where wish kids from all over the world can come and stay and experience all the fun they have to offer there or the surrounding parks.
We were hesitant to stay there at first because we didn’t know if we wanted to stay where all the “sick” kids were staying. Do we want to see that everyday? Do we want to be reminded that we too are a part of that world? I am so glad we did though. It was an amazing experience. Adler chose to stay there so we let him decide. It looks like a real life candy land. The cafeteria building looks like a gingerbread house and the tables are made from peppermint candies. All the table are low and easy for kids to eat at. The volunteers there were saints. I never carried my tray of food for more than a few steps until they took it for me. They had a party every night for the kids to be entertained and involved in. A Halloween party one night with Storm Troopers and Jedi’s and trick or treating and then seeing Santa and getting a present the next night. They also had Disney characters every morning and Adler met Mickey, Pluto, Goofy and Princess Belle and he loved it. They have a place called Amberville that was just outside of our villa. Villa 201 that was a mini theme park. A train around the place, a little arcade that Adler visited every day and a butterfly ride. The carrousel was ridden 16 times through out the week and ice cream was served for breakfast and available until 10pm. We ate it at 9 pm one night cause we could!! He got his face painted and danced on stage several times. They had a parade even and Mayor Clayton, the bunny, tucked him bed one night after we went to his surprise birthday party complete with cake and a giant carrot for the bunny. And he was in a talent show even!! Of course he danced!
They had the coolest splash pad and pool area I have ever seen. It’s all handicap accessible so Adler was who had never been in a pool was able to walk in slowly in shallow water until he got used to it and he played and played where the wheelchairs could go into the pool. And I personally loved the splash pad part. It was like I was 8 years old again playing in big sprinklers. They had a pirate ship stage and as soon as Lady Gaga’s Pokerface came on, he was on that stage dancing. He danced every where we went. From the village to Magic Kingdom, to Universal Studio’s and back again. He was purely filled with joy every day.
He woke around 6 am and we’d eat as soon as the cafeteria opened and that boy had bacon every time. 6-8 pieces. And 2 waffles or an omelet with cheese. He loved it. I reveled in his enjoyment of eating. We met several families and talked with many volunteers. We felt normal there. We were all there for the same reason. To make our kids who have life threatening illnesses happy. It was comforting in a way.
One of the volunteers came up to Aaron and Adler and I and said “ya know, this trip is for you guys too. Sure it’s your son’s wish but it’s fun for mom and dad. Take some time if you can. And by the way, when was the last time someone told YOU that YOU were special?” We looked at him dumbfounded almost because we tell each other that and people tell me that on Facebook but not like that to our face. I got teary. And he placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “you are so special, and so strong, don’t ever forget that”. That was my first time crying during the trip.
The second cry came when we got off the ferryboat headed to Magic Kingdom. I remember my first time at Disney World. It is and was magical. You turn childlike in an instant once you see that castle in the distance. You can’t help it. I got goosebumps and excited and wanted to run in. And when we got in and we were standing on Main Street looking around at all the Christmas decorations and huge tree and hearing the Christmas carols over the speakers I looked at our son who a year ago couldn’t have walked into the park on his own. And he put his little head back and arms out to the side and quietly screamed in pure joy! He was so excited to be there. The tears flow now as I remember it and they did as I witnessed it. He just kept saying “I don’t know, I don’t know how to feel. I am so happy. I am just so happy” And THAT is what life is ALL about. That one single moment that he was happy. I decided that was my favorite moment ever. It beat all the times I had been there before.
We did all the rides all the shops and he pooped out and need a wheelchair. My parents met us there and we enjoyed the day. The whole day there.
We did Animal Kingdom the next day and it was ok. We got him a wheelchair right away though because his little legs just tire out still. Hell, it’s a lot of walking for an adult. More rides, more toys and more fun.
Universal Studio’s was next because he had a meet and greet set up with the Super Hero’s of Universal’s Island of Adventure. He met Cyclops, Captain America, Storm, Rogue and Spiderman. They immediately fell in love with our little super hero. I don’t blame them, it’s easy to do. We got first class service from all the park staff there. They made our day very easy and comfortable. Taking us to the front of every line personally and we didn’t have to wait at all and we could ride again if we wanted to. They were truly special there. Disney was too, but not like Universal. Even the restaurant sat us right away. No wait. It was so nice of them to honor our Make A Wish. We spent 2 full days there with the parties at Give Kids The World every night! Adler was the energizer bunny!!! Still needed a wheelchair though. It made it easier that way so when he could rest his legs and just take it all in.
Our last day was Saturday and Adler wanted to do Magic Kingdom one more time. Hit up the rides he missed. I was afraid that it would be terribly busy for a weekend and it was. I mean my God was it ever. We deemed it “Stroller World” that day. It was insane. And people were rude and inconsiderate of Adler being in a wheelchair. I mean come on! We kept going on fumes. I mean we had packed a park and a party and fun and food all into one day every day!!! I was getting frustrated and hot and tired by then. We even got turned away from a few rides because they didn’t have “fast pass” lane. See we had Genie pass. The Genie from Aladdin was our go to the front of the line pass and our Make A Wish buttons on and Adler is a wish kid. We shouldn’t have to wait. Well, not the case that day. I got grouchy about it and so did Aaron but we stayed focused on Adler having fun. The next couple of rides were fun, then we roll him on over to one and head towards the front of the line. (I had taken half a Xanax by this time too, it was necessary!) The woman bluntly looked at me and said “we don’t have a fast pass” I said sternly “I know but he’s a make a wish we shouldn’t have to wait” And my husband agreed. She looked at him in the fucking wheelchair and looked up at us and asked “Is he disabled?” My head got hot, my ears got red. My lips began to snarl. My blood pressure raised and my hands clinched the handles of that wheelchair so hard as I tried not to absolutely lose my ever loving mind right then. All this time I have stayed sane. I have kept my temper when many times I would have been fully justified in losing it for sure. Today was not going to be that day. I wasn’t going to let some work on the weekend bitch at Disney World ruin my son’s day or the good temper streak. I simply yelled “he has inoperable brain cancer, does that count?” Everyone looked at me and then at her. I mean the entire line of people waiting looked. She said cowardly, “oh um, well then, um come right over hear to the front and park him here and can he walk to the elevator?” She never made eye contact with me again. She hung her head and she should have. How dare she ask me that? And so smugly like she did. I was angry. I was pissed. I was mad. But most of all, I was hurt. That little bitch hurt my feelings. We rode the ride and Adler loved it. But I held onto her asking me that and me having to answer her. Aaron knew it too. He was upset too. We decided to be done for the day and grab lunch. Adler wanted pasta at one of the only 3 sit down places at Disney to eat. The little fucker up the 3 stairs to said restaurant questioned us “do you have reservations” My husband said “no but we are Make A Wish” He said back “yeah, sorry we are all booked up” I looked at that man and imagined punching him arcade style right off that pedestal he thought he deserved to be on and watching him fly over those 3 steps landing hard onto his back. So I said “well, fuck this, we are outta here” I looked down at a disappointed Adler and he said “I just want to leave, let’s go back to the villa” Sure we could have gotten a manager and made a scene and all that. And yes, I could have assaulted that man and I really wanted to after the last woman’s comment. BUT, I wouldn’t do that to my son. I wouldn’t act that way in front of him. He’s been through enough. He’s seen enough. He deserves more, better.
So we left. Our last day we went back to the rental car, drove away from the Magic Kingdom and though that day sucked, I will never forget the first day there and seeing that joy on his face. The laughter, the smiles, the “oh my gosh that ride was so fun” after every one. The “oh thank you for bringing me here” from Adler to us. The memories that were created we will treasure forever. We will never get another wish. This was truly special. And at the end of that day he got what he wanted, he had pasta that night at the cafeteria!! It was the best time as a family we have ever had.
He had no pain while we were gone. Just stiff and sore from walking. So many firsts and so many will do’s again. And to answer that hurtful question, “Is he disabled?” Hell no he’s not! Even if he’s in a wheelchair with brain cancer, hydrocephalus, adrenal insufficiency and what used to be chronic pain I would love to say that he is more able than anyone I know!!!! And now his star shines bright in the star tower at Give Kids The World along with hundreds, maybe thousands of others just like him who are ABLE!!!!!! His and their diseases do not define them. They are so much more than that. Just look at him. He’s beautiful. He’s a light in the dark. A rainbow in the storm. And finally, the clouds are clearing for now. The sea rests easy and magic is real!!!!! Thank you Make A Wish for Making Adler’s Wish Come True!!