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Magic in the Journey

By Colleen Helme

The summer of 2002 my family had the wonderful opportunity of visiting Scotland through the efforts of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The year before, my son was diagnosed with a brain tumor that turned out to be cancerous. Although this news was devastating, a ray of hope came when the surgeon was successful in removing the tumor. This was the first step in what was to be nearly a year of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

During this difficult time, the Make-A-Wish people contacted us. They sent two wish-granters to our home who helped my son determine what his wish would be. Imagine my surprise when he wished to visit castles in Scotland!

The wish-granters not only granted this wish for my son, but also included our entire family. This was an exciting time of planning and did wonders for my son who was enduring rounds of chemotherapy at the hospital and was unable to participate in school and other normal teenage activities.

He finished his chemotherapy and had a few months to recuperate before the trip was scheduled. The day finally arrived. Armed with passports, luggage, cameras, and airline tickets, we were ready. That morning, another surprise awaited us. A limousine was parked in front of our house to take us to the airport!

Our trip was a whirlwind of activity. We visited twelve castles, even spending the night in one. We toured the country from Edinburgh to the highlands, and visited many historical sights hundreds of years old. When it came time to leave, we couldn’t help shedding a tear or two. The trip had fulfilled all of our expectations and we were glad to have met so many kind and interesting people.

My son wished to visit Scotland because he loves swords and castles. To him, Scotland was a mystical place and he wanted to experience that magic. We found it on the moors of the highlands and the craggy mountaintops. It was in the sweet smell of rain and dark earth. It was in the deep swell of Loch Ness and small boats along the river. It was in the green rolling countryside and ancient castle ruins. It was on the battlegrounds of Culloden and in sword and shield of another time. It was on the shores of the North Sea and in haunting sounds of bagpipes, but most of all, it was in the eyes of my son.

There are times in our lives when we re-evaluate what is most important to us. When my son was diagnosed with a brain tumor, our lives changed. Watching him suffer through surgery and months of chemotherapy treatments was difficult. Facing the reality that he might not survive was even worse. Through it all we found solace in our faith and comfort that we were not alone. My son willingly put his life in the hands of God and found peace. He is now looking forward to a long life full of plans and dreams.

The magic came in the journey. What began as a terrible nightmare changed into something far deeper and more meaningful than we could have imagined. Through it all, we have been the recipients of the goodness that abounds in humanity. From family and friends to people we’ve never met, the outpouring of good will has been astonishing. Life is good, even amid tragedy. There is a little bit of the Divine in all of us. That’s real magic!