Thursday, July 16, 2009
A Promise Made on Main Street
I was reminded a few weeks back just how precious my children are to me. Now don't get me wrong I hold them tight every chance I get and of course they run as quickly as they can on many others. But I have to say spending time with them on the road, well it was rather enlightening. I have found a road trip brings out a whole new dynamic in a family and in many ways can either bring you closer or pull you apart. Of course it depends upon how you allow the pendulum to swing.
As we traveled from here to there we shared stories, watched a movie or two or three, text until our fingers hurt, fought a few times but at the end of each day we were family. We drove through cities, counties and states, slept in crooked positions and fought off bugs as we ate sandwiches out of the van. Know what? We found ourselves again as we bonded over tuna fish and baloney, lemonade and diet coke and of course all while fighting off natures critters together. Our travels took us far and wide as we spent time with dear friends, enjoyed a wonderful family dinner with them and theirs, splashed in the water and dug up horseshoe crabs. Then as time passed all too quickly our family was off and back on the road again.
Time froze for just a second or two as we drove through the gates of Neverland into the most magical place we have ever been to. Yes we arrived at Disney World, treated to this most spectacular delight by my parents, again honoring their promise to me and the boys. What promise you ask? Well you see it all started on Main Street June 2006 as the clock seemed destined to strike midnight. As I stood there, not even half way through my chemo, time stood still and I heard the last call on the wind ...
I can still see the night captured vividly in my mind... the castle beautifully lit up, glowing many colors in the background, music dancing inside my ears and Main Street carrying families to the exits. I felt so alive and yet so afraid to give up the day. I wanted this magic to last forever.. to press that one moment upon my heart so nothing could take it from me. I broke into tears as my boys came smiling, giggling and laughing out of the Emporium. Seeing them truly smile for the first time in six months was overwhelming. Right there on Main Street USA, in the middle of Magic Kingdom I finally allowed tears to burn my face. I fell into my mother's arms and let my fear spill out. I did not want to face a future which may not include watching my boys dream, hope and believe in the magic surrounding us. So then and there a promise was made... a promise to celebrate life even if mine was lost. A promise to return to this most magical of places where the boys could be themselves, happy and free.
Much of our lives these past three years have ridden upon on the hope we carry inside our hearts every day. We have pushed forward even on the days when I can say honestly we really just wanted to drop to on our knees. If it's not the cancer then it's the chemo and if it's not the chemo it is the waiting and if it isn't the waiting it's the after shock as life keeps moving ahead. Sometimes no matter how strong you are or how broad your shoulders may be you have to retreat and regroup. I can't tell you how many times as a family this beast has laid us at the Heavenly Father's feet wounded and empty. Life with cancer is full of chains binding us to fear so spending time together as a family within those fantasy filled lands fills all those empty pots up again and breaths fresh life into our hopes.
This year as our pumpkin changed into a carriage something different grabbed hold of me and lit a spark...
Part of this year I have spent battling my own body, hiding from the shadows and the worries tomorrow always seems to bring. What I saw deep down inside me was the fact I had forgotten the truth behind our promise and what is was really all about. Truly is it not better to have lived each moment as it were your last than to have never lived at all? I had to examine myself and face the music. I was just going through the motions without a why or a reason. Had I allowed my faith to be broken? Maybe... but now, here in this place full of magical possibilities all those disappointments could fall and fade away.
I stood there just gazing upon Cinderella's Castle. I am still struck by the beauty of this structure and the way it takes my breath away. I turned just in time to see both my boys grinning widely. I could see them as they were three years ago spinning in circles, laughing, chasing after all their imaginations could conjure. Time was frozen for us during our 2006 trip --- all we wanted was to catch Tinker Bell and a bit of her pixie dust too. Now I was looking at one quickly maturing pre teen son and another ten year old on the verge of leaving boyish games behind him. Right then and there I saw their dreams spread out before me and I was moved. . .
I am such a sucker for tears right? But I couldn't help it. My heart was full and as a mother I felt the sudden need to pull each of them close to me and to hold them tight. I could feel the magic filling my soul and all I wanted to do was dance in circles like a child again myself. I had to fight off the urge to laugh out loud and before I knew it I was caught up in the magic all around us. I didn't see the hundreds of other people flocking by our family on that day. No I was blinded to them what I did see was I only my small, maybe slightly broken but beautiful family about to set off on our own adventure. You know in this crazy world we sometimes lose track of the child within us. So I beg of you this question shouldn't we stop for a moment or two to listen to our heart beat and experience the magic our children have to offer us?
Without moving a muscle I just let time pass for a few moments as I let the magic lift me off the ground. I knew pixie dust had just been sprinkled upon us and for a moment we had the floor all to ourselves. The kingdom was ours, the castle our playground for the day. It was our time to spin around the courtyard, to have our eyes opened, our hearts' captured and create memories together. My heart cried out, "Christina, don't think about tomorrow because it will only slip away. Why worry about what's ahead of you when you have today? Your only concern is this very moment you are standing in and the dance before you." Oh how I just needed to take my time and let the hustle of the world pass me by. I needed to just walk, not run ,as we passed through those magical moments within the kingdom before us. In my own imagination I extended my hand toward the boys and we danced. As a mother and a breast cancer survivor there is a constant struggle internally for me. I juggle what to tell my children, what to hold back from them and how it will all affect them not just today, but tomorrow. At times I get lost, tied up in knots trying to debate whether to open just the doors of today and keep the far realm of tomorrow off limits.
So as I stood there with so many souls passing us by in a hurry I imagined myself filing with hope and tears began to fall. My heart reached out and spoke to theirs, "Boys... so young and brave, tell me you still believe in the everyday miracles? Just stop for a minute and see the wonder surrounding you. Allow your dreams to swirl around you and fill us all with seeds of hope. May faith consume your hearts and this magic sow wonder within you as you grow. Give me just today, that's all I ask, and stay innocent for just a bit longer. Let me dance one more time under a canopy of pixie dust with you. Laugh and giggle and let the magic of childhood live within you as you travel outside your fortress of imagination. May you both hold your dreams close and never forget this day. "
Nothing on earth could have been more beautiful...and in those moments standing with my children I found myself again. I saw a glimpse of the mother, the friend, the wife, the woman and yes even the survivor I truly am within. Up until then I had been allowing uncertainty to overcome me sleeping on a pillow of worry afraid I might drift away and break into a thousand pieces.
Was my heart held captive there among fairytale princess and flying elephants? Is this world of magic my permanent home, a place where our dreams set sail with just a touch of pixie dust? No, but every year if just for one day, we come together right there to celebrate this promise of life. You see my friends if we would just stop and listen to the child within us our imaginations could take us beyond the worry of today. There is such a powerful magic held within our dreams, the kind the world seldom really sees. I have heard it said “Fantasies are more than substitutes for unpleasant reality; they are also dress rehearsals, plans. All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination.” (Barbara Grizzuti Harrison) Yes in this extraordinary place I have taught my boys to grab hold of their dreams, never letting go of their daydreams and imaginations.
As I turned to face Adventure Land I sighed, took a deep breath in and pulled my boys close pondering our promise on Main Street. I thought about twirling them each around right then and there. Thinking twice about their reactions I turned and twirled them around anyway. Were they absolutely horrified? Yes, but you know what? They were fearless, just as I was in those moments standing there in the middle of this Magic Kingdom. The truth is this: we were holding on to one another. Then as I blinked the world speed up and the moment was gone but not the memory. As we left behind Main Street we didn't have to worry about tomorrow because we had today.
The following night we packed and in the morning headed out on the road back home again. We sang and fought, laughed and shared. Coming home we brought with us many memories in which to fill year three of our new lives with hope and a new lesson...
As we experience the joys of today our possibilities are endless. We may chase fireflies together, catch frogs or believe in dragons within the realm of the unseen because the sun will rise again tomorrow and the day will be ours to seize.