Prompt: Tell us about one of the best days of your life.
I don’t know that I can pin down a best day. But I do remember the best week.
Warning: if you are prone to feelings of angst/anger/irritation when confronted with maudlin or sentimental issues, you may want to reconsider reading this entire post.
The best week of my life was spent at the “happiest place on Earth”: Disney World in Orlando, FL. It was the second time I had been to Florida, but my first (and so far only) trip to Disney.
Honestly, it wouldn’t have been my first choice in similar circumstances, but it’s what my little brother wanted, and I was just thrilled that he wanted me along for the ride. Actually, he didn’t seem to want to leave my side for the whole week. We had been living separately for years at this point, but he wanted me there. And I was happy to be there.
A little background: My brother had a tumor removed from the base of his brain when he was six. I was 12 at the time. After a year of chemo, he was declared cancer free. Shortly after that, I was adopted by our maternal grandparents while he continued living with our mother. I didn’t really get to see him more than a handful of times for a couple of years. Then, he went to live with his father and paternal grandparents.
By then the cancer was back, and now it was in his spine. I visited when I could, which wasn’t nearly as often as I should have gone. But for that one week, thanks to the Make A Wish foundation, I got to spend basically every waking moment with him.
Honestly, the details are hazy. I have tons of pictures from that time, and I cherish them, even though his face was nearly unrecognizably puffy from the steroids given to him to combat effects of the chemo/radiation.
I remember little of the parks themselves. Mostly, I remember exploring the village where we stayed (Give Kids the World). It was set up just for kids like my Short Butt. There was a playground, a pond, a swimming pool, a giant talking tree, a dinosaur-themed mini-golf course, a game hall with pool and Foosball, and a giant carousel that he absolutely loved. My favorite pictures are from the two of us playing in the empty playground.
I hate my faulty memory. I feel that if it weren’t for my PTSD, I would have more of those memories without the pictures. But I do remember little things: how excited he was to meet Goofy, how he wanted to walk rather than using the wheelchair, how much he loved the roller coasters, how we played board games on the floor of the room we shared.
It was the last really good week we had. He passed away a few months later as I started my senior year of high school. Every year on his birthday, I think of how old he should be and what milestone he should be reaching now. Last year was especially hard; he should have been getting his driver’s license.
But no matter how rough it is knowing he’s not going to do any of the things that I have, and knowing that I’ll never have the nieces and nephews I wanted because (unlike me) I assume he would have had kids in the future, I have those memories of Disney. That one amazing week, even overshadowed by what we knew would come soon, gave me time with my little brother and our family.
So, yeah, it was sad, but it was also the most amazing week of my life.
Thank you Make A Wish.