This past week, we had the huge blessing of Make-A-Wish granting a special wish for Eliana. Her wish was to go to New York and meet the ballerinas at the New York City Ballet's The Nutcracker!
In an interesting twist, The Meredith Vieira show heard about our story and invited us to participate in a segment as part of Make-A-Wish's and Macy's National Believe Day. That was pretty crazy!
Our trip started when a limo picked us up early Saturday morning and took us to the airport. Everyone was so excited! Our flight was great. The pilot approached us at the gate and asked the kids if they'd like to come see the flight deck. They couldn't believe it. This had nothing to do with Make-A-Wish. It just happened to be an extra special surprise.
The pilot met us as we were getting off the plane and presented each of the kids with wings that said "Junior Crew". They were thrilled!
We had a super sweet flight staff loving on our kids during the flight. It took two taxis to get our crew to our hotel and we had lunch at a nice little cafe right across from our hotel. We met up with our very sweet Make-A-Wish rep and got on the most claustrophobic subway ride ever to head to the American Museum of Natural History. Everyone had the same idea on this rainy Saturday. We saw some fun exhibits and watched a great show on space. It ended with witnessing a surprise marriage proposal. (She said yes!) Then we enjoyed a less crowded return route. We settled in our hotel room and ordered delivery from a deli.
Sunday afternoon a limo picked us up and took us to the Empire Hotel where a makeup artist was waiting to get Eliana ready. We spent an awkward afternoon with interviews and lots of walking around with a camera crew. So weird. Eliana wasn't as cooperative as they may have wanted, but she loved being pampered. She was sadly working on a bit of a cold and was all sniffles and grumpy faces during our downtime.
We watched a little greeting video from Meredith telling Eliana that as part of her wish she would be going on stage after the show to meet the ballerinas. We went to the Lincoln Center and got to explore a bit before the show started.
All of the kids loved the show! During intermission, we went down to the pit and Liam told the orchestra what a great job they were doing. After the show, it was time to go backstage!
We were able to meet a few of the dancers and they presented Eliana with signed ballet shoes. They were so sweet and Eliana was so nervous. She got to talk to them for quite a bit and they did some ballet moves with her. Liam was chatting them up and telling them that everything was so beautiful.
|Her face just says it all, doesn't it?|
Our ride home was full of crazed chatter. Everyone was still humming the music and we enjoyed some cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop.
For the rest of the trip, Liam kept asking when we could go back and see the ballerinas again. The next day we headed to Battery Park for a ferry to the Statue of Liberty. It was a cold and rainy/sleety day. Everyone was pretty miserable, but they pushed through it like champs. Hot cocoa helped!
We spent a short, but fun time exploring Liberty Island.
And finally got to see Lady Liberty. My Whovians were glad she didn't turn into a Weeping Angel!
That afternoon we stopped by Macy's Herald Square for part of the National Believe Day promo. For every letter written to Santa, Macy's would donate $1 to Make-A-Wish. We don't really do Santa around here, but the kids played along to support Make-A-Wish. :)
Things were quite rushed that day and we ended up getting a late start to seeing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. It was so fun! The kids were on the edge of their seats. Literally. I had to keep telling the littles to take their hands off the back of the seats in front of them. :)
The next day, we headed to NBC Studios to film a segment with The Meredith Vieira Show for Macy's National Believe Day.
The Meredith Vieira Show and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon share a hallway. Ricky Gervais was in a dressing room waiting for his time on Jimmy Fallon. Liam and Eliana were walking down the hall when they spotted part of Questlove's bow tie collection hanging on a clothing rack in the hallway. They stopped and were going on and on about the bow ties. Ricky Gervais laughed at my kids, ya'll. And then we got rushed down the hallway.
Meredith Vieira was so nice. She even wrote us welcome letters to read backstage before filming.
We made it to Rockefeller Center after The Meredith Vieira Show. It was so pretty!
The next day was our last day in New York. We hit up Central Park on probably the coldest day with the worst weather for our trip.
The kids really wanted to see some sights from a Doctor Who episode called "The Angels Take Manhattan". For example, running across Bow Bridge like The Doctor.
Or pretending to be taking care of a coffee run like Rory Williams at Bethesda Fountain and Terrace.
Our last subway ride before waiting to leave.
We had a wonderful time thanks to Make-A-Wish, Macy's, The New York City Ballet, and The Meredith Vieira Show. This little princess had a beautiful wish and was happy to be heading home.
You can watch our segment from The Meredith Vieira Show here.
Something that didn't make the cut from our on set segment, was a nod to our boys in the audience where Meredith asked them a question. They were so excited about it and did such a great job.
Meredith had asked the boys if they liked the subway.
Jonathan: Kind of. It was crowded.
Caleb: And we saw a rat!
(lots of laughter)
Meredith: So you really had a New York experience!
If you'd like to read more about Eliana's cancer journey, you can begin with Part 1 of our story, Discovering Medulloblastoma: The Back Story
We spoke a lot with the producers for the pre-recorded portion, but our segment had to be cut to just about 5 minutes. Unfortunately, discussions about our faith didn't make it through editing. I wanted to take a moment here to expand on the biggest question we were asked during the pre-recorded segment.
What got you guys through that time with Eliana being diagnosed and going through treatment?Our trip was a great time of enjoying one another and focusing on the joy that Christ has brought to us through this journey. We are so grateful for everyone who helped make Eliana's wish come true!
This was a time where our faith really became tangible to us. It's one thing to say we trust Jesus when things are going along in a day-to-day routine. It is quite another thing to be completely helpless in a life and death situation, yet still be able to say, "Have thine own way, Lord. Have thine own way." That was a gift from the Lord. That wasn't anything from us.
Ultimately, we trust that God is in control of our lives and our health. While we were/are terrified of the idea of losing her, we understand that God gave Eliana to us and it is his will which determines her fate. One of the hymns that held us together (and still puts Eliana to sleep when I play it), is "In Christ Alone". There is a beautiful lyric which I sung on repeat in my head, "From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny." That's it. He had the final say over death at the cross. He has the final say in every heartbeat of our precious girl.
God used others to provide for us in practical ways. We are grateful for the medical staff who took such great care of her. We had family and friends who physically got us through with coming to stay with us; bringing meals; grocery shopping for me so I could have 5 minutes home with my boys before the next hospital run; helping us arrange childcare; and hosting Liam's therapy appointments. We had other moms actually homeschooling our children! We'll never be able to thank them enough for uprooting their lives to serve us in the name of Christ. My husband's work was so understanding and flexible. I still don't know how my sweet man functioned day to day when his baby girl was going through all of this miles away from him. Well, I guess I do know. It was all by the grace of God.