We were doing some repairs to the ceiling in Austin’s closet last week and so removed all of its contents to his bedroom floor (boy, that was scary). Along with a silly array of clothes, shoes, blankets, puzzles and too small snowpants came his bag of wishing stars. It had been tucked away on the back of a shelf since his last overnight stay at the hospital, more than a year and a half ago.
I always brought it along with us, even if we were scheduled for just a single night. I usually only put a few of our favorite stars up, just enough to decorate the room a bit and give me that necessary feeling of security, as if those stars were watching over my little one as he lay in that bed. The longer we stayed or the more major a procedure he was getting, the more stars went up. In those dreadful days and weeks leading up to Christmas 2009, his room looked like this:
But we got lazier as our visits went on and on (and on), and I would try to get by with hanging only ten stars at a time. Austin was no fan of this and once scolded me, “This room looks ugly! We need more stars!” He certainly made sure we never left the house for a hospital visit without that overflowing paper bag full of wishes.
I’ve thought on and off about what I should do with them now to ensure that they last. The stars from his first round of cancer were long ago inserted into a photo album for posterity. But those were all made by me, transcribing the wishes of others, so they were much flatter and simpler than the spectacular, glittery, bedazzled stars made by all of you.
I suppose I should at least photograph each individual star before they get too wrinkled and crumpled in that bag.
But anyway, that bag. The kids must have gone through at least a few of them because there were some on top that were not part of our regular rotation, some I haven’t seen in a good long while. Including one from my father that said, “I wish that Austin and I will go skiing together next winter.” I remember at the time thinking, “Oh that’s sweet … but not gonna happen.” Not the very next winter at least.
But it did happen. My dad wrote that wish in December 2009 and by the following winter, March 2011, just fifteen months later, they went skiing together down the mountains of Park City, Utah. (It wasn’t a very successful skiing adventure, that day, but that’s a story for another time.) But the remarkable fact is that they did it. They skied. Together. The very next winter.
The wish came true.
And I started wondering: How many more of those wishes have already come true? How many of us — friends and family and strangers — wished for my little boy and how many of those wishes have actually happened?
And the answer is a lot of them. All the simple little ones like laughter and giggles, cartwheels and playdates, going to school and making friends and riding a bike. He’s done all those things. He does them every day. He’s had that sleepover in the tent (well, he didn’t last the whole night, but still …), he’s gone sledding down Coventry Hill and boating on Lake Chautauqua. He’s met his little cousins and visited with friends far and near. And the biggest wishes have come true too. He is here, after all. He is with us, and so is his kidney, chugging along.
He’s checking’em off, one by one. His own joy-filled bucket list. That he has many many years to complete.