I've started writing this thank you note several times since Lydia's wish was granted, but each time it seemed a letter of thanks felt empty and fell short of what we wanted to say.
After struggling for a time, I found the words in the Make-A-Wish summer newsletter where somebody else had already stated it perfectly. I've surely seen the short sentence in the past, but never experienced its power or impact. The words are in the mission of Make-A-Wish Iowa: to bring hope, strength and joy into the life of each deserving child.
Lydia was diagnosed with a very rare liver cancer in August of 2008. Those weeks of discovery are much of a blur for our family, but we were recently reminded by her doctor that Lydia was a very sick little girl. I remember the fear of "not knowing" as they figured out what we were up against, the feeling of helplessness as she was wheeled into surgery, and the utter panic of hearing Lydia was eligible for Make-A-Wish. After surgery came the five day hospital stays for chemo, when we returned home, the twice weekly trips to the lab for blood draws, the three daily fights to get her to suck on her lozenges, and the daily injections to bring her white blood count back up so we could start it all over again. The constant grind took a toll as joy turned to dread of another needle, her confidence fell with each strand of hair, and hope was dashed by fever. Luckily, through it all she kept her strength and shared it with others.
Then it was over and we got through it. We received tremendous support along the way from a number of outstanding people and organizations, but the Lydia of old was still in hiding. That changed with Make-A-Wish. Hope returned when Lydia learned she was granted her wish of swimming with the dolphins. Her excitement lasted for months and carried her through as she waited for her trip! It even spread to the rest of the family as we felt her anticipation and we all began to feel better. As for the joy, take a look at the pictures. The trip to Discovery Cove and Sea World Orlando was awesome, if not perfect. So again, to just say thank you feels empty. Instead, please know Lydia's back and you nailed your mission on this one. And by the way, THANKS!