There’s the type of sisterly bond where you don’t want anything bad to happen to your sister and you risk your own health to help them.
Think Anna and Elsa of Arendelle, but change the names and take away the magical frozen powers.
Now add cancer.
That’s right, cancer.
It’s more powerful than Disney’s most evil villain.
As cancer survivors, every night is a special occasion worthy of a firework show. For the past few years, my sister Donna and I have both been in Florida, the perfect place for sisters to watch fireworks together. 150 miles separate Donna, in her comfy chair, from me, near Walt Disney World. Donna is battling stage 4 ovarian cancer making it too hard to watch fireworks in person.
Here’s where technology steps in…
We use FaceTime to make video and audio calls from our iOS devices. I call from my cell phone to Donna on her phone or iPad.
You can see fireworks anywhere. What sets Disney firework’s apart from the others is the emotion that comes out of them. The music, the timing, and the atmosphere really have an emotional impact, even after many times. When I look around me, there isn’t a single guest who isn’t touched by the magic of Disney’s fabulous show. But I usually look in the sky or at my sister on the screen in front of me. When we connect, the calls hold an indescribable light. Like we’re standing together to fight the beast.
Where words can’t reach and the unimaginable things that happen fade for the duration of the show.
When I look at the screen of my phone I see bravery in the face of adversity. I see someone so strong yet fragile.
Growing up together meant that every Fourth of July our family would pack up a picnic and watch fireworks. Every New Year’s Eve we would welcome the new year by gathering around the TV to watch a broadcast of fireworks from around the world, talking about how next year we were going to make an effort to go see them live. Our Walt Disney World trips would always include viewing the nighttime fireworks before heading to sleep.
Now as adults we do a lot of sleeping. Naps have become mandatory. Between my sister Donna and I, we have endured endless days in hospital beds undergoing chemo and radiation, tests and scans.
During Wishes, she always asked when the “Scary Part” was coming. I guess knowing ahead of time makes things less frightening. It’s deciding that we want to do something more than we are afraid to do it.
We watched the very last Wishes Nighttime Spectacular together. I was on Main Street USA and Donna watched from her chair. As we watch together it changes the way I look at things. I hold tightly to hope of the future where cancer is a thing of the past. It’s like that feeling of remembering something you had forgotten. The fireworks display felt final and a very emotional tribute to the time we watch together.
Jiminy Cricket narrated a lump-in-your-throat story about making wishes come true. Memorable music from beloved Disney films was choreographed to the breathtaking fireworks display.
There is truly something magical about Disney fireworks, storytelling you can’t convey in words. I put away my camera and experience the shows through her eyes from my phone screen.
“But just when things look bad, fate steps in to see you through. Well, I’ll be—it’s the Blue Fairy!”
I’ve asked myself why The Blue Fairy section was my favorite part.
I’m not sure.
During that part, it’s like dazzling diamonds and shiny sapphires bursting in the sky. There’s no hidden Mickey and no swirly “stars” or fancy shapes. It could be the fact that the words say:
“Remember, we must always believe in our wishes, for they are the magic in the world. Now, let’s all put our hearts together and make a wish come true.” And I always know what we are wishing for… no more cancer.
In the finale the female soloist sang “We’re all just children, reaching for our dreams.”
I think back to the dreams we had as little girls. Our dreams are bigger now.
Lighting a firework fuse ignites a lift charge, which propels the firework into the night’s sky forming glowing colors high above the crowds below.
It does the same thing with hope. Hope, pushing upward, and forced through an opening, until it bursts with colorful light filling the soul.
Now during the new show, Happily –Ever –After, “Love Is an Open Door” from Frozen is played as a soft slow instrumental. Cinderella Castle becomes blue with purple highlights and Olaf (spoken): reminds us that some people are worth melting for. We say goodbye to the pain of the past and take in a deep breath.
The Heroes’ Happily Ever After is my favorite part of the new show. Cinderella Castle is in flames and we hear Mufasa (from The Lion King): “Look inside yourself”
Then the instrumental “I Can Go the Distance” from Hercules plays and I believe every word.
Mufasa (continuing): You are more than what you have become
Remember who you are
Some times we hear little princesses ooh and ahh, and we’re taken back to our own childhoods. A time when our only worry was getting in line for Josh’s hot donuts before it stretched around the block. Or eating a Mr. Frosty’s Twinkle Top before the soft serve melted down the cone.
Talks about ballet lessons and homework turned to wedding plans then motherhood. Now our talks are about cancer side effects and struggles. But for these 18 minutes of fireworks, we remember who we are.
When I look down at my phone I see her hope grow. Filled with emotion, I see that sister of mine like Tinker Bell – the sassy, spunky, fairy making her flying appearance not sitting in her chair with her nightly meds on the side table. When Tinker Bell flies she reminds us that with faith, trust and pixie dust, Happily Ever After does happen.
I can’t imagine the world without hope or the world without my sister. It’s Donna’s birthday (and my half birthday) Yup it’s a special day. I imagine us on Main Street. The feet between her chair and Walt Disney World fireworks feel infinite. As I sign off each video call, I access the rear-facing camera and leave her with a big cheesy grin up close. I smile as Donna preserves the memories by taking screen shots of our FaceTime calls. The secret is I don’t want her to notice that I usually have tears in my eyes. Filled with worry that this will be our last FaceTime call. I remind her to hold her head high and celebrate the part of her that’s still going and made it another day. She can go the distance.
Walt Disney requested a fireworks show with the backdrop of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, to keep guests at the park longer.
I guess I’m doing the same thing.
Requesting one more FaceTime, one more firework viewing, one more dream come true, one more night cancer doesn’t win, and one more Wish turning into a Happily-ever –after.
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