THE GREATER GIFT
It was the most ordinary of days when Mitch received a package in the mail addressed just to him.
As if that didn't make him feel important enough, this package contained a very special key that would soon open a very special door. Attached to the key was a letter that told him to keep it safe, for it would be the key to unlock his wish. Mitchie, with magic in his eyes, looked at his key with great curiosity. We loved seeing our little boy so excited … and it’s fair to say there was a little magic in our hearts, too.
Mitch was only 7 years old at the time and we struggled with the decision to take him when we did. “Perhaps he’s too young to really appreciate it”, we thought to ourselves. “What if we wait a few years? Maybe his wish will be different when he matures a little.” But we also knew the longer we waited the weaker he’d become. Yet Mitch was supposed to live to his mid-20’s and it stood to reason we could wait a little longer before things got much worse. But somewhere, deep in our hearts, we felt time was not on our side and we needed to go then. In retrospect I can see there was more than a hunch at play.
It wasn't long before Mitch was invited to meet the Make-A-Wish team in Salt Lake City. They were all so kind and loving and we were humbled by their goodness. It was clear that the people of Make-A-Wish genuinely cared and wanted to lift heavy hearts and give children a reason to believe that good can happen despite the difficulties they face.
During this visit Mitch would use his key to open a special door to a most unique room. I’ll never forget the look of wonderment on his face as he saw a room completely filled with light. I had never seen anything like it, and haven’t since. Every surface was luminescent and softly changing color. The floor seemed to hover over a large pool of what felt like healing waters. This room was magical. Mitchell’s eyes grew big as he cautiously made way toward the center of the room where he would leave his hand-written wish.
As we drove home that evening my innocent son had a look on his face I had never seen before. Though he looked out the window of our car, his eyes seemed to look past the visible horizon into a place of dreams and wishes. A place of hope. As his father, knowing what DMD would soon do to his body, I couldn't help but gaze with Mitch ... out there, to that place of hope … praying my son would be spared.
A few weeks later Mitch was invited back to the Make-A-Wish building to be granted his wish. He was then given a stain glass star upon which he wrote his name and some of the things he loved. It now hangs with the many hundreds stars from other children who also had their wish come true. One day I will go back there and try to find Mitchell’s star. But, for now, my heart is much too tender and I don’t think I could see through the tears.
Our family would soon go on a week-long trip to Florida to visit the theme parks and stay at “Give Kids the World” (think Disney meets Wisteria Lane, minus the drama). Mitch loved roller coasters and had such a good time. For an entire week all that weighed heavy, was made light. We just had each other and memories to make.
I am humbled by the love and generosity of Make-A-Wish, its incredibly kind and compassionate staff and donors who gave my broken son the greater gift … the gift of hope. And hope is no small thing.