A Once-In-A-Lifetime Invitation

The first day of my husband’s bucket list trip to Walt Disney World with Stage IV Metastatic Uveal Melanoma didn’t start out quite so magical. We arrived at the gates of Magic Kingdom bright and early. I’d timed everything perfectly so we’d be there for the park’s 9 am opening. Everything was going great until we scanned our magic bands to get in and discovered that our 5-day park tickets had expired and we hadn’t even been to one park yet! “This should be easy,” they said. “No problem,” they said. “We’ll just take you over here to guest services and they’ll take care of this for you.” After waiting in a line and another 15 minutes at guest services with a cast member on the phone with our resort, our 5-day park tickets were finally valid and ready to go.

Did I mention that I grumbled a bit while we were waiting patiently (and not-so-patiently) at the guest services desk? “All they need to do is change ONE date for FIVE people and this will be solved. Walt would find this unacceptable,” I said. “The people in this line should be top priority of the whole park right now. These peoples’ days aren’t starting out magical at all. Walt would do everything he could to make this experience as quick, as easy, and as magical as possible.” Breathing slowly and looking away from the cast member whose extended phone call was causing me slight first-day-of-vacation agitation, I reminded myself that we weren’t entitled to magical beginnings just because my husband has Stage IV cancer.

After the ticket debacle was resolved, we made our way to another guest services building where we signed up for disability access service, then continued down Main Street. Who doesn’t love Main Street at Magic Kingdom? If anything will cheer you up and get you feeling good, it’s Main Street and that spectacular castle. We stopped for a photo with the Disney photographer. Then one teen wanted individual pictures by the castle and they didn’t quite turn out they way she wanted, so we had to take more and then a few more. Then one teen was getting grumpy from “too many pictures” and my husband said “yeah, maybe let’s get going and not take pictures for a while.” Phew. Breathe deeply. It’s okay, people. Maybe the morning didn’t start out perfectly magical, but it’s ALL good. Let’s regroup and make our way to Adventureland! It’s time for an adventure!

We regrouped successfully. As we made our way to the entrance of Adventureland, we approached two cast members wearing Disney pin trading satchels.

(Please note, had we NOT made ALL of those stops prior to this moment in time, we very well would have NOT had such an incredibly magical day. So if things aren’t going quite the way you hoped, keep moving. Life might not seem totally magical now, but it will in time. Just wait and see.)

So back to those cast members wearing Disney pin trading satchels who we approached so we could look at their pins and make our first trades of the trip…

It was an ordinary interaction for a while. My husband traded a pin with one of the cast members. Then our youngest made a trade. Normally, at that point, we’d say thanks and move right along with our adventure in Adventureland. But these cast members wanted to know more about us. Where were we from? We scored some bonus points when we said we were from Seattle because one of the cast members was from Seattle and she knew exactly where we live! Were we planning on going to the parade this afternoon? Do we want to know some inside secrets about where the BEST place is to view the parade? Brick, the other cast member, broke out a map, showed us the parade route, circled the best place for us to view and explained why.

At that point, I was moving into writer zone. Writers know what I’m talking about. The moment when you realize a bit of a story might be unfolding. To me, this was a story about a man named Brick who was deeply committed to his work at Magic Kingdom. This was a story about a man who LOVED his worked, loved this place, and wanted to invest every second he could into every family who approached him to give them the most magical day they could have. I wanted to know more about this Brick and what made him so passionate about his job. I LOVE people who LOVE what they do.

Brick was taking a LOT of time with us, an unusual amount of time, I have to say. In nearly 21 years of going to Disney as a married couple and as a family, we hadn’t had this much personal interaction with a cast member. Like I said, I thought it was a little odd, but let him keep chatting with us and engaging with us. This, after all, is the magic of Disney.

We admired Brick’s favorite pins on his hat, and he told us a little about his 29-year career at Disney. But then. BUT. THEN. Brick brought conversation back to the parade, asked us to show him how we’re going to wave at the parade as it comes down the street. Okay??? We all waved for him, some of us a little more excitedly than others. Again, it was a little odd, but we all complied and engaged Brick kindly and graciously as we would anyone else! I don’t recall exactly how or exactly what words he used, but it was at that point that Brick asked us the question of all questions. “Do you think you could wave like that in the parade? I want to invite you to be the Grand Marshals of our parade today!”

Oh my goodness. Tears streamed from my eyes instantly. “Oh my goodness. You have no idea,” I said to Brick as I looked at my husband and gently touched his arm. “That would be AMAZING because he has stage IV cancer.” Everyone beamed with excitement as Brick proceeded to give us instructions as to where to meet, at what time, and how this Grand Marshal thing was all going to happen.

As we left Brick that morning, we wondered, how in the world had this incredible, amazing, magical thing happened to us?! Only God. Yes, only God could make such a thing happen. Brick had NO idea about my husband’s Stage IV Metastatic Uveal Melanoma diagnosis, but God did. God ordained our every step. Had our timing been different that morning, Brick and his colleague would have picked a different family as Grand Marshals. But there we were at the perfect place at the perfect time picked perfectly for this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience as Grand Marshals of the Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom. Oh. My. Goodness. This was only God.

I don’t really have much else to say. I’ll let the slide show tell the rest of the story. But here’s what I want you to know. I cried 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through that parade. Why? Because the experience was completely overwhelming, “surreal” as my husband so accurately stated. As we made our way down the parade route, God revealed to me that he will provide for us, even in the midst of our darkest, deepest trials. Second, and even more important, He has a heavenly home prepared for us and it is going to be grand and wild and magical beyond our imagination. Us being Grand Marshals in a Disney parade was a once-in-a-lifetime God-ordained experience that 99.9% of people won’t ever have. BUT I promise you, God has extended you an even GRANDER invitation, an invitation to ride in His chariot, to enter His gates, to ride to the palace where¬† streets are gold, where everything is good, and tears are no more. Accept the invitation and He will give you the ride of your life. They’ll wave and He’ll smile. Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.

  1. Ginny Revak says:

    You made me cry! It is so hard to remember that all good happens in God’s time. We have to give our lives to him and he will give us what we need.God bless you  and your family. The kids are growing and changing. I love looking at the pictures of them from Rockford and seeing them now.

  2. Eileen says:

    What an amazing experience! God knows our hearts and delivers on His promises to provide at every station in life. You all are royalty! 

  3. Phil Baunsgard says:

    This ia so Awesome! GOD is good all the time GOD IS GOOD! What a blessing. This story  is great. I am so glad your family had this opportunity  to really enjoy  this time together.  Thank you for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.