Finn is three years old and was diagnosed with severe heart disease when I was 19 weeks pregnant with him. He spent the majority of the first year of his life in the hospital after birth enduring 10 surgeries including one open heart surgery. He was home for about 11 months and then went into heart failure again last January. This past year he had his 14 procedures and second open heart surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which was a huge success!
We were very grateful to the Make A Wish organization and their partner Walt Disney World for sending us to Disney World this past week as a family! We were able to enjoy so many magical memories but the most magical moment was definitely with Disney photographer Linda as soon as we walked into the Magic Kingdom.
You see, we wanted that iconic family castle photo early with less crowds and less heat. Our minds were focused, and we were moving with immense purpose right for that magic castle! We were one of the first people on the ferry and could see our goal in sight!!! Huge castle, right across the water!
When we arrived, there was a very short line for a memory maker taking professional photos. Third in line, we stood. When our turn came, I turned to the photographer and asked ‘Do you mind if I snag this spot real quick to use my phone to take a photo with his sign to give to make a wish? We can re-stand in the line again for a family photo afterwards.’
Linda, the photographer, said nothing and put her hand up to the line behind us like a magic sorcerer. ‘Go ahead honey and you take your time. Get a good one.’ I snapped my photo super quickly (a different one then shown) and that’s when something happened.
At this time, my mind had just been unemotionally focused all day on getting there early to grab this moment and then spend the rest of the day essentially photo free (other than some candid shots) and just ENJOY! The goal was the grab the moment, but then, the moment grabbed us. After I snapped my quick photo of little Finn with his wish kid sign, we began to walk to the back of the line to re stand for a family photo. But sorcerer Linda had something else in store.
‘Come here honey,’ she said to Finn, as at this point, a zillion people stood in line behind us. ‘I want to tell you something.’ I picked Finn up and held him to her eye level. Linda leaned into him so endearing, removed her sunglasses and ever so lovingly told him:
‘Today is not about what you’ve been through in the past and it’s not about what you may go through in the future. Today is only about today Finn. I want to give you something very special ok? Can you hold on tight?’
She reached into her pocket and it looked like she grabbed nothing. ‘Hold out your hand.’ She said. Finn’s eyes lit up exactly like when we turn our Christmas tree lights on for the first time each year. ‘It’s pixie dust.’ She said. ‘And you know what Finn? It’s magic. Just for you. Hold it tightly ok? Today is going to be full of magic for you.’
I’ve seen my children light up with magic before. Santa, elf on the shelf, the Easter bunny; but this moment was different. This time, he wasn’t just seeing it, he was believing it. He was LIVING it. You could see it in his eyes. You could feel it in his genuine and glowing smile.
After Linda lifted her head up from Finn, I turned to Michael and we were both sobbing, and for some reason, it occurred to me for a second that it seemed really quiet for Disney World. As we turned our heads to the massive line behind us, the entire mass was smiling and wiping tears. No one was even the slightest bit bothered at the insane amount of time we had held up the line.
We wiped our tears, thanked Linda, and as she snapped our family photo with Cinderella’s castle behind us, the families waiting all clapped and held up magic moving Mickey fingers to the boys and yelled ‘say cheese!!!’
We went into this trip excited to see magic through our children’s eyes. Just like on Christmas or their birthdays. We weren’t expecting to see it through our own eyes as well. But we did. Something happened. Disney Magic is real. Make a Wish is not called Make A W I S H for nothing. Wishes do come true. A dream truly is a wish your heart makes and even the most broken of hearts have wishes come true.
We have always felt that everything happens for a reason and field that we needed Linda as a part of that moment. Her words brought not just us but everyone around to tears. It was a beautiful experience to cry happy tears as a family when we have cried so many tough ones in the past.
Thank you, Linda, wherever you are. And thank you, THANK YOU.
Watch the video below and know more about Finn and you can also visit his Facebook page called Prayers for Finn: