…that’s how I would describe Rudy’s Wish Trip! So much thought and planning and prayer went into our trip to Florida and I really feel like our prayers were answered. The trip was definitely worth the effort. 🙂 As we prepared for our first real family vacation since Rudy was born, my main wishes were to keep Rudy safe and to maximize our family time away! Our experience was all that and more…all the details the Make-a-Wish staff planned unfolded smoothly, our family remained healthy and safe and, most of all, we managed to pace ourselves which all resulted in a precious, stress-free time to experience new things together as a family and laugh!
I’m so grateful for the big kids…we promised them plenty of “big kid” fun but also wanted them to keep in mind that this trip was a gift in honor of Rudy and so wanted them to engage in all the activities enthusiastically. They did great! Attitudes remained positive and they always made sure Rudy was included whether that meant accompanying him to a “little kid” activity at Give Kids The World or a theme park, making sure his wheelchair was front and center or picking him up in a crowd so he could see. They just really seemed to share in Rudy’s joy and that blessed us. I was struck by how perfect the timing of this trip was for our family…I’m not sure how much of this trip Rudy will remember but he was certainly old enough to have fun and Wilson was still young enough to have fun. Wilson let go of any need to be a “cool teenager” and allowed himself to be a kid. Max made it a party and played “Pied Piper” in more than a couple of impromptu football games at the pool. Olivia was her sweet nurturing self quick to take Rudy for a walk when he got fussy or help him color at a craft activity. There were many activities where Rolf and I were unintentionally pushed out of the way and watched from the sidelines. Ha Ha 🙂
It’s funny…we have a ton of nicely posed pictures from our trip but it’s candid moments like these that are my favorite. 🙂
It’s hard to describe a trip like this one…pictures certainly help capture all the color and fun but I wish there were words that could adequately describe the range of feelings we encountered. The trip was one of both beauty and pain. Much like our life with Rudy from day to day, joy and heartache coexisted at Give Kids The World for me and Rolf. There was just no escaping the reason why we were on this trip and that the many families visiting GKTW were families like ours…journeying with a medically fragile child. There were times I was brought to tears overwhelmed by the kindness of the volunteers who were there to serve us while at the same time in disbelief over the fact that our family was even on a Wish Trip…dare I say, wishing Rudy was a healthy boy and never qualified for a wish trip to begin with! There were many times when I felt like we were walking on holy ground among people who regardless of their religious beliefs were on a faith journey just like us as they face immortality and the very real threat of losing a child.
I was surprised at first that there wasn’t more “connecting” among the families visiting GKTW but then I realized that we were all there to focus on our families so quick little exchanges with other families while waiting in line for a carousel ride or breakfast at the Gingerbread House with no promise to “stay in touch” seemed appropriate. No “talking shop” or comparing treatment notes. It kind of felt like no one wanted to intrude on others’ space and so most kept a friendly distance. Very few volunteers asked what Rudy’s condition was…most just ooooed and ahhhhed over how cute he and the big kids were. Although I don’t mind answering questions about Rudy, it was surprisingly refreshing to not have to. I’m not sure if it is by design or just happens naturally at Give Kids The World but demonstrating care and concern happens less with words and thoughtful inquiries about specifics and more by doing acts of friendly service. It was special and, at times, overwhelming and ALWAYS much appreciated.
We are grateful to Linda and Anne at Tri-Counties Make-a-Wish, to Mike and the team at Inogen, to the amazing staff and volunteers at Give Kids The World and to the countless others who made this trip possible for our family. It really is an experience we will cherish for our lifetime and hope to pay forward in the future. 🙂 Okay, one last look…
Reality is hitting us this week…Rudy came down with a fever and cough so he and I are laying low at home. Oh well, the “vacation glow” can’t last forever, I guess…but as Olivia said yesterday “it’s nice to daydream about Give Kids The World”. Ha Ha