Working with children who are very ill takes a toll on one’s heart and mind, but the hardest thing to hear is a child’s words, “I wish I could get better.” Though I try to be the best fairy godmother ever, I know this is way out of my power to grant. I can only reply, “You want to get better. We all want you to feel better” It is heart-wrenching and I must remind myself that my job is to encourage and try to find something that will lighten the burden of one so young who should never have such a heavy heart.
It’s no wonder so many children wish to go to Disney World, Universal, Sea World, Lego Land and similar parks filled with fantasy and wonder. Haven’t we all longed to escape reality for a little while and fly away to Never Never Land and let our hearts and minds rest? Caregivers and those who work closely with the sick, bereaved or otherwise challenged in our communities do need a way to receive refreshment. It’s especially difficult for parents and siblings of those who are ill. Sickness doesn’t take a break; there’s no vacation from it. Every time New Hope for Kids sends a Wish child and family on a trip, I heartily pray they will receive the much-needed respite without being ambushed by a problem that necessitates a trip to the hospital. That’s one reason wishes are granted before a child is grievously terminal. Waiting too long makes it difficult for the child and family to enjoy time away if it is still possible. The family longs to make lasting memories at the child’s dreamed for venue. It is crucial that this happen in the early stages of illness. Another benefit is the support gained from other Wish families who gather 6 times a year for fun and friendship. Wishes do not cure illnesses; they do not wipe away all sadness. Wishes do give hope, happy memories and a time for refreshment and family time.