I imagine for most of the millions and millions of people who visit the Happiest Place on Earth each year they probably walk right past the Wish Lounge door without even noting its existence, unless maybe they wind up at the first aid station wondering with curiosity where the adjacent door leads. However, we became intimately acquainted with the Wish Lounge in August two years ago; it is a small room at Disneyland that serves as a rest area for kids with life-threatening illnesses who have chosen a Disney adventure as their Make-a-Wish experience.
For Judson, the Wish Lounge was his happiest place at the Happiest Place on Earth.
We actually spent the bulk of his Make-a-Wish trip in the Wish Lounge because Judson enjoyed it so much. It was air-conditioned. They offered him snacks. Mickey, Minnie, and Pinocchio personally visited Jud. He listened to Disney movies. And most of all, it seemed Judson felt more secure and protected from the sensory-overload he was experiencing in the main park—his blindness made it impossible to visually process the new auditory stimuli, triggering fear.
Drake and I returned to the Wish Lounge yesterday for the first time since Judson’s Make-a-Wish trip.
Feeling jitters of anxiety and waves of sadness, we ventured back knowing it could be quite some time before we had another opportunity (our Disneyland passes** are about to expire).
Drake and I sat there in silence and tears.
My mind flooded with untapped memories of Judson playing on the floor with Pinocchio, sitting in my lap resting, using his imagination to look for spiders, eating his special lunch, quoting the Disney movies, and more. But most of all I recalled how my predominant “wish” in the Wish Lounge had been to return one day with Jud walking by my side, hand-in-hand, able to see and engage the kind people who had assisted us there and speak of the miraculous God who healed his body.
Instead, we returned without our boy, engaging the brokenness of life without him. God did not heal our Juddy, but as I left the Wish Lounge this time, my predominant “wish” is for God to use our son to heal the hearts of many.
**Thank you to all our dear friends who gave us the incredible gift of Disneyland passes this year. We used them regularly and they brought us much joy!!!