The Webster’s Experience
We were lucky enough to be one of the Feel the Magic family’s to be chosen to go to Disneyland in April 2017. Before leaving Australia, the kids attended Camp Magic, which gave them something known and positive to concentrate on so their nerves didn’t get the better of them in the big lead up.
We got up extra, extra early the day of departure and headed off with our chaperone Steve and his wife Julie, who joined us in the hopes of offering me some down time or opportunity for girl time while we were away.
Steve has been Rian’s mentor several times at camp so he knows both boys well. He was a great choice from the first moment, allowing Rian the comfort of a familiar face.
We arrived in Anaheim early in the morning and didn’t waste a moment getting down to Disneyland. We were all exhausted from the 34 hours awake since leaving Sydney – but it was the best way to starve off the jetlag.
From the very first moment, the beautiful nature of everybody at Disneyland was gorgeous. There were always smiles from everybody we spoke to, and it was infectious because it extended the whole of our trip. We didn’t experience anything but positive energy the whole time. It’s no wonder they call it the happiest place on earth!!
Out of the ten days, we visited Disneyland eight times. Great effort on our part I think.
Leading up to the trip I spent extra time trying to encourage Rian to push himself out of that comfort bubble he holds on to so tightly and try new things. He outdid himself. After a very anxiety induced time on Splash Mountain (that even I braved) he realised there was some enjoyment in these fast and furious contraptions. And being Disneyland they make sure that all the rides are open even to midgets like Jordyn. This is where Steve stepped up in good fashion for his first task – going on all those fast and fearful rides that I just couldn’t face. The big kid inside him came out in big fashion!!
We saw parades and princesses, and all our favourite characters signed our autograph books. We spent a few evenings with downtime at dinner together. I think Goofy’s Kitchen was the favourite and I personally got a bit star struck when Chip & Dale spent time with us.
We’ve made no secret of the emotional significance of Disneyland for us, with it being the only place (other than outer space) that Paul ever wanted to visit and the promise he always made to the boys that it would happen one day. I think we all felt his presence there multiple times. The boys mentioned him a lot and the three of us “saw” him more than once in other visitors.
Steve was the perfect mentor for us. He has a beautiful quiet nature about him and can anticipate when things might start to fall apart. He can separate the boys or distract them with something else in a way that is casual and natural and doesn’t make the boys feel they are being reprimanded in their excitement or exhaustion. It truly is a gift. More than once he saw one of the boys pushing me to my limit (as they naturally do) and he quietly intervened, guiding the boys away and allowing me some breathing space.
I lost count of the times tears fell from my eyes as I saw Rian or Jordyn holding Steve’s hand, climbing all over him or having an impromptu cuddle. They are memories I’ll cherish forever. I miss that so much for the boys every day.
I even got some girly shopping time with Julie while the three boys went on a special electronics man shop.
Steve and Julie treat all of us like family and I know they feel like they now have sons to love. They really are the most generous and kind hearted people and we were so fortunate to spend our time experiencing Disneyland with them.
It was a wonderful opportunity for us to spend time with each other away from the things we deal with on a sometimes-daily basis. It gave the boys and I a chance to do something amazing that would have been otherwise out of our reach. The trip culminated in a special ceremony. We began by spreading Paul’s ashes in a quiet place that he would have loved and ended with us writing a personal message to him on a balloon and attaching his photo. After a few last words from all of us, we all kissed it goodbye and watched while it rose steadily into the dark. Its blinking light shined for the longest time in the night sky.
As much as the trip was fun and exciting, without a doubt the best part for me was when Jordyn whispered in my ear “I know dad is at peace now that he fulfilled his promise to us” as we watched the balloon fly away and seeing Rian become quietly confident, willing to push his boundaries and taking such satisfaction in feeling like a new boy that could do anything. A mum couldn’t ask for any more than that.
I can’t thank Steve and Julie enough for the love and care they gave us every single minute. It would not have been the same trip without them and they totally embraced every moment as we did. We love them both even more now than we did before.
And our biggest thank you and love to James & Kristy and the Board of Feel the Magic who saw something in us that was special enough that they offered us this amazing opportunity.
Last but not least, to our whole extended FTM family – I honestly cannot think where we would be right now if we hadn’t found you when we did. Sorry, but you’re stuck with us forever.
Nikki Webster 🙂
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