Posted by Mishi Methven on Aug 23, 2011
Keeping the clouds away.
On my way
To where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Sesame Street…
Well, here we are on Stella's "Make a Wish" trip in rural Pennsylvania at Sesame Street Land. It's not a real "Make a Wish" trip because that organization only grants wishes for children over the age of three, so the reason we are able to come here is because of the generous donations of our family and friends. Thank-you to everyone who helped us get here, it has been an amazing trip and the snoring 2-year old sprawled out beside me as I write this is more exhausted than I've ever seen her. With dried ice cream on her hands, smears of dirt across her cheek and mussed hair, she is the epitome of a person who just had the most fun day of her life.
Auntie Heather, Aimee, Stella and I flew in on Sunday and my parents and brother drove 9 hours on Monday to meet us here. We were lucky at the airport to run into our friends brother who arranged for Stella to sit with the Captain for a few moments and "co-pilot". She was absolutely ecstatic, but when I had to tear her away so the real co-pilot could do his job she turned into the Stella I know and love. She yelled as I dragged her out of the cockpit, "No Mama, it's my turn to drive…the guy has to share!". Then when I finally got her buckled into her seat she yelled at all the people filing into the plane, "No! This is Stella's plane. I don't want you on my plane. I don't like you!" as she pointed her chubby little index finger at them. Most people just smiled and walked by, and even though I was a bit embarrassed, I also had a little moment of secret laughter and pride. My kid is tough. My kid is strong. My kid knows what she wants. As the plane lifted off and I showed her the clouds out the window, I suddenly felt hot tears running down my cheeks. I hadn't even realized I was crying, but my mind began to imagine Stella floating on these clouds, laughing and playing. Would she be able to walk again when she got to the clouds? Would the headaches stop? Would her laughter echo off the blue sky and find its way to my heart? Stella smiled as the plane flew higher and higher, she asked if she could touch the clouds and I just whispered to her…"soon", heart soaring and breaking all at the same time.
On Monday, those of us that were already here went to the Adventure Aquarium where Stella loved looking at all the fish and sitting on a bench in the sunshine by the water, watching the seagulls fly. It was a really special moment, one of those "remember this" times when everything, just for a moment felt really perfect.
Today we all headed to Sesame Street Land where we had a full day of fun and adventure planned. At Walmart yesterday I bought Sesame Street character shirts for the whole family, and even though we felt a little bit silly, we all donned them and marched together into Sesame Street Land. She screamed with excitement when we entered the main gates. The day then became a bit of a blur of flashing cameras… Sesame characters…lineups…laughter…lunch. We headed to the Elmo Rocks show where Stella danced and laughed and clapped her way through the songs. The joy and happiness in her heart and on her face was so palatable that it made Aimee cry through the entire show. Stella, who has no idea what's going on inside her little body, just sat there and smiled in Dee Dee's lap, carefree and happy. How I wished for a moment I could share that moment of complete joy with her. It made me happy to see her so excited, but the emotion "happiness" is so different feeling now. It's like when you laugh so hard it hurts and you're not sure if you really like the way it feels or not. We also went on some rides (I've decided Stella has no fears whatsoever…), enjoyed a special Meet and Greet with the Sesame Street characters arranged by my sister especially for Stella (who knew she loved The Count so much!!???) and watched the parade down main street.
It's almost impossible to describe in words what it's like to be taking this trip, whose entire purpose is to give Stella as many smiles and laughs as possible, yet in the back of our heads knowing that this is "the last trip" we will take with her. Sometimes I try to tell myself this isn't really happening, that she will live to come back here with her brother someday. Sometimes I try to pretend this is just a regular family trip. Sometimes I almost believe it.
At 5:30pm we had dinner reservations where the Sesame Street characters come around to your table. Stella went absolutely nuts for Cookie Monster and Abby and Elmo. In the 48 hours since landing in the US between Auntie Heather and I, we've taken 412 photos. It's as though we're so desperate to capture every single moment, smile, nap. When we get home I'll post some of the photos. Her smile fills each frame and it's impossible not to smile back at her happiness.
We are giving Stella the time of her life. I have never seen her this happy. I have never wanted to freeze time so badly. Freeze each time her blue eyes widen in excitement. Freeze each word she whispers to me with her impish smile. Freeze the wonder, the innocence, the intense love.
This is truly the trip of a lifetime. This has been a beautiful reminder of how lucky we are to have been blessed with Stella, even if it's just for a little while. This is Stella's "Make a Wish" trip, and I'm so glad we could be with her on this journey. If only we could make a wish too...