Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Make A Wish" and Laurie Berkner

This Saturday, Queen Teen and I are flying to New York City to see Queen Teen's favorite singer, Laurie Berkner, in concert at Lincoln Center for the Arts, all thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation. Queen Teen was referred to the program four months ago by one of the social workers we work with. At the time Queen Teen had no idea what she wanted, but the two volunteers who came to interview her discovered that she LOVES Laurie Berkner. When they asked her if she'd like to meet Laurie Berkner, Queen Teen giggled and smiled so big her pony-tales practically pointed straight up. That settled it! We would meet Laurie Berkner.

The team warned us that celebrity wishes can take a year or longer to arrange, but Laurie Berkner is not your average celebrity. She has been more than accommodating and seems really eager to help make Queen Teen's dream come true TODAY. We've been invited back stage to meet Laurie after the concert and she asked what Queen Teen's favorite song is so that they can sing it together.

While Queen Teen was recovering from surgery last year, I contacted Laurie Berkner and requested a note from her to help cheer Queen Teen while she lounged around in two big casts. Laurie sent a postcard and a hand written note within the week.

Queen Teen says that listening to Laurie cheers her up. Even though Queen Teen is a teenager now, she still loves listening to the silly, children's songs of Laurie. I think partially it's because Queen Teen is losing her hearing, but since she knows every one of Laurie's songs by heart, she can still enjoy the music no matter how muffled it may become.

Make A Wish is sending a car to our home and driving us to the airport, paying for all the travel and accommodations, helping us navigate Manhattan, and providing meals and "incidentals." They want us to have fun without stress or worry about how much something costs. For that, I am deeply grateful. And I am grateful to the hundreds of volunteers and people who donate to the program who help make these dreams come true for kids who really have a rough road to travel.

When we found out her wish was granted, Queen Teen asked, "Why are they sending me to New York to meet Laurie?" She watched me very carefully and I knew I had to say something that would help her understand what the program is about without making her think people were feeling sorry for her. I was really stumped for a bit. I mean, what do I say? Um gee... because you have a degenerative disorder and who knows what the future will bring?

After a moment, I said, "They're giving you this chance to meet Laurie because the people know how hard things can be for you sometimes and they want you to have something that will make you super happy. You've been through a lot and have worked really hard and this is a present so you can just do something fun and not have to worry about anything."

She nodded while she thought about what I said. "Okay." Then she smiled and we started planning for the trip. I think I said the right thing because now all she talks about is WHAT we're going to do and not WHY we're doing it.

"Make A Wish" isn't about pity, it's about joy; a way to try and balance out some of the anger and frustration, pain and discomfort, of coping with a chronic illness. It's about giving a family time together doing something fun and care free.

To tell the truth, I'm really excited to meet Laurie Berkner too! It's Laurie Berkner!!!! She's awesome! Really! Check out her website and play some of her songs. Not just silly preschool stuff, grown ups can enjoy them too.

"I've got a song in my tummy and it wants to come out, I've got a song in my tummy..."

So okay, maybe that one's silly, but what's wrong with a little silly?

"I've got a song in my tummy and it wants to come out. And when it does, I'm gonna sing and shout... La La, La La, La La..."

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