Something happened last summer that only a few people know about–I didn’t have the strength to talk about it. It terrified me; it brought me to my knees.
For a moment, I thought my son was going to die.
He was almost two years old. I was at work when the daycare called: Colin had a low-grade fever. I took him home and gave him some medicine.
At first, everything was normal–he ate lunch, played with his toys, and seemed happy.
But in an instant, things changed.
After his nap, he was snuggled on my lap, and I realized that he felt really hot–his fever was quickly spiking. Seconds later, he threw up.
I carried him into the kitchen. I put him down so I could get medicine and juice, but when I turned around, there he was…laying on his back on the kitchen floor…he wasn’t responding.
I panicked. I started crying. I was screaming his name.
His body stiffened…his eyes rolled back…and he stopped breathing.
It was absolutely the scariest moment of my entire life.
I ran for the phone and called 911. I rolled Colin on his side. I couldn’t stop crying…couldn’t stop calling his name, pleading with him to please breathe, telling him over and over that I was right next to him.
I honestly have no idea how long he stopped breathing…I lost track of time; it felt like an eternity. I can still remember the feeling of absolute joy the moment I saw him take a breath.
The next thing I knew, my house was filled with police officers and paramedics. They instantly knew what happened: Colin had a febrile seizure.
We were lucky–this terror soon ended; these seizures are fairly common in young children and Colin has been fine ever since.
But that day will haunt me forever.
Since I became a wish granter, there’s a question that I’ve been asked many times: Your children are healthy–what made you want to volunteer for Make-A-Wish?
I’ll answer this question, but first…let me tell you about another little boy. For privacy reasons, I’ll simply call him “J”.
I wasn’t supposed to meet J–I actually volunteered to help another child, but the Make-A-Wish team contacted me. J is six years old and lives out in the country–they were having trouble finding volunteers to work on his case. Would I be willing to help with his wish instead?
I made the 45 minute drive to J’s house and met my assigned wish-granting partner, Regina. As soon as we stepped inside their home, I couldn’t stop smiling. J, his twin sister, and older brother were jumping up and down with excitement to meet us.
J is quiet, but his face lit up talking about his wish: he wants to go down a giant water slide–the bigger, the better!
And while I absolutely loved meeting J and talking to him about his wish, there was a moment with J’s mom that really stuck with me. She told us a story…she was volunteering at J’s school one day when she noticed another child in the class. The bald head gave it away…the child had cancer. At the time, she was grateful that her kids were healthy. But it wasn’t long after that day when her world changed forever…when it was her son being diagnosed with Wilms’ Tumor, cancer of the kidneys.
So why did I decide to become a wish granter?
Yes, I thank God that today both of my kids ARE healthy. But as parents, I think we need to stick together.
The moment of pure horror that I felt when my son stopped breathing…when I was helpless, when I was scared, when I didn’t know what was going to happen…that’s how many parents feel when they learn that their child has a life threatening disease. I can’t begin to imagine how painful and stressful that is. My heart aches for them, it’s a pain that no one should have to bear. Raising kids is hard enough…but having to watch your child hurt, to know their little life is at risk…that’s just too much.
Most people assume that as a wish granter, the magic comes from making a dream come true for a little kid. And trust me, it does. Later this summer, Make-A-Wish will be sending J and his family to Disney, where he’ll be able to go down countless water slides–I can’t wait to be a part of helping to make that happen.
But there’s a whole other component that’s just as important…as a wish granter, I have the chance to help other parents– moms and dads who are warriors for their kids, fighting for them, praying for them. I get to be a part of bringing these parents a sigh of relief–a moment when they can just enjoy seeing their kid happy.
Make-A-Wish does so much more than bring happiness and hope to the children…it brings magic and priceless memories to the entire family.
And this is why I’m proud to call myself a wish granter–as a parent, it’s a title that I wear with pride.