It’s hard for me to understand what something like this means to the kids and families that flew on the Children's Wish Flight in Search For Santa. I imagine it is a break from the everyday routine and caregiving – a little magic in a perhaps very unmagical-feeling reality. I wondered what it was like for Chloe, who just wants to run and play like any other kid, and seemed as happy, perhaps happier, than most healthy children. Or her family – what did they think? Was it encouraging to be able to talk with others going through similar tough experiences? Others, who every day have to deal with the fact that there is an hourglass always running, counting down to the next emergency.
I spotted Chloe and her family leaving – they had forgotten their photo from the photo booth, so I ran it over. She was beaming.
“Did you have fun, Chloe?”
“Yes!” There was that smile again.
We exchanged goodbye’s and, honestly, I was left feeling a bit shaken. The whole flight experience was so heartwarming: the joy of the children, the thankful faces of their families, the endless hours put in by the many volunteers. It was enough to restore my faith in humanity. But somehow, I couldn’t help feel a little sad and contemplative. What would happen to Chloe? Would she live a rich, full life? What about all the other kids onboard? Then, I thought of my own children. In a way, we all have an invisible hourglass, certainly not as terrible and ominous as those of these kids and their families, but there nonetheless, that is counting down, one small grain at a time. I didn’t know what to make of it all, but I hugged my kids a little harder that night.
Looking back a few days later, after some time to process, I think Chloe had it right. This year, I plan to enjoy the moment, not ask for too much, and wish everyone (including Santa) a very Merry Christmas.