Since all of the kids' birthdays are right around Christmas, they usually get inundated with so many presents at the same time. Due to this, we gave them the option this year to either get presents for their birthdays or go to Disney for a day. They quickly yelled at the top of their lungs, "DISNEY!" We planned to go sometime before Nate's 3rd birthday because kids are still free until they turn 3. After that, we might as well refinance the house and sell our kidneys if we want to partake in the magic of Disney anymore.Right around the time we started talking about making plans to go, I got word that our dear Houston compadres, the Knights, were going on a cruise and ending that trip with a day at Magic Kingdom and wanted to know if there was a chance we could all catch up on some visiting while they were so close. Once the kids caught wind that we were going with the Knights and that they would finally get to meet Lauren, they were beyond ecstatic. You see, Nate and I have been able to spend a good amount of time with them while staying at what we refer to as "The Knight Hotel" when we go to Houston, but Jay and the girls have never actually met them...they have only heard stories and seen pictures.This trip was exactly what Ben, Missy and Lauren have needed after the extremely difficult 5 months they have encountered. About 2 weeks before Samuel died, it was decided that his Make-a-Wish trip would be to stay at "Give Kids the World" and go to the Disney parks. The trip was set for the first week in December, and they were all so excited. Lauren was beside herself with excitement about the plans for that trip, and relaying Missy's words "when Samuel died, she not only struggled with the loss of her brother and best friend, but she struggled with the sadness that she wouldn't be going to Disney." I am so very happy that she was able to experience this dream.As we were preparing for the day trip last week, Emma interjected a couple of times about how sad she was that Samuel never got to go to Disney and would never ever be able to go since he was now in heaven. This gave me a great opportunity to read her what Missy had written on her blog the week they should have been going on Samuel's Make-a-Wish trip: "I had huge hopes of showing the Magic Kingdom to Samuel this week. I hoped to see the wonder in his eyes as he saw the most spectacular sights. It would be a beautiful experience and a once in a lifetime event for him. He'd eat ice cream and for one week, he'd have no doctors, therapies, or medical interventions. But, instead, Samuel is playing in the most magical of kingdoms... Heaven! The sights he sees are so much more spectacular than anything at Disney. The wonder in his eyes is not brought on by a fireworks display, but by the love of God. And, at the end of the week, he won't have to leave. He will play in the Magic Kingdom forever... and someday, I will play with him!"
I still can not read that without tearing up. What incredible insight from a broken-hearted mother.
I can not explain what a wonderful honor it was to be able to experience this day with our dear friends, not to even mention how much fun it all was. Knowing that Lauren's personality was so close to Emma's, we had previously pegged that they would be fast friends when they would finally get to meet each other. They were indeed joined at the hip within the first 5 minutes of "meeting". Ben and Jay were able to get to know one another, and Missy and I started back where we had left off in October...just talking nonstop throughout the day. I sure have missed them all, and this day with these dear friends was a sweet comfort to my heart.
The day was truly so wonderful. We trudged through the craziness of Disney on a holiday weekend, being dive-bombed by birds who poop as they fly over you, corralling kiddos through the crowds, walking in herds eerily similar to those in feed lots, and getting quite pink due to the absence of a layer of sunscreen. We watched the kids as their heads flopped around on the teacups, as they screamed or held on for dear life on the roller coaster, as they tried touching the 3D objects that seemed right in front of them during the Philharmagic movie, and as they walked beside each other, locked arm in arm for a vast majority of the day. I thought of Samuel several times throughout the day...during the Monsters Inc show, the Buzz ride, the fireworks. I thought of how I wished he could indeed be here with his family experiencing all of this...but I was immediately reminded of the words of his dear mother that I mentioned previously and was thankful to know that what Samuel is experiencing is so much greater than we could even imagine. Something I long for so deeply.
After our second outrageously expensive meal of hotdogs...after watching the spectromagic parade, cool show on Cinderella's castle, and fireworks, we gave heartfelt hugs and said goodbye to our precious Texas friends. We had had a delightful day, and although exhausted and worn, it was difficult to say goodbye.