Dear New York,
My Mama raised me to write my thank you notes immediately (or sooner) after receiving a gift. And so as the rest of my house sleeps tonight, I don't want to waste one more minute before expressing my most sincere gratitude for the gift you gave us this past week.
Usually when I have anticipated something for a long time, my expectations get all in the way and the long-awaited event can not possibly live up to what I so desire it to be. You should know I had anticipated this trip for a long long time!
One year ago, two days before Thanksgiving 2012, we learned that our Benjamin would require a major spine surgery. With one x-ray, our plans for a family vacation in your city -- the first for our kids -- would have to be canceled. We were all utterly disappointed.
Desperate to find our holiday joy, we tuned into the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade -- our annual tradition. When a commercial offered a number for wheelchair-accessible viewing for the parade, my husband and I looked at each other over the children's heads. Could we? Was it possible to spend Thanksgiving in New York City?
I only waited until the Monday after Thanksgiving to call:
"Yes, I would like to talk to someone about accessible seating for the parade."
"Um. What parade?"
"The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, of course."
"Ma'am, that was last week."
Once I explained, my little family became first on the list for a pass to the viewing area. And Dad and I began to plan.
|Waiting for the parade to begin!|
Please do not doubt my sincerity, when I tell you that throughout the holidays last year, every time I felt weighted down by the grief of this pressing surgery, I would think, but next year we will celebrate. We will go to New York.
When Benjamin had his first of three surgeries in December last year, I thought "New York, next year."
When I bought Christmas presents last year, I shopped for big coats for the girls. We would need them next year in New York.
When my Mom crocheted me a new scarf, I asked for one to match the new coat....for New York next year, I explained.
It was a coping tool to be certain. It was something to look forward to when all of the worry, surgery and recovery would be just a distant memory.
And when November approached this year -- three surgeries behind us; rehab behind us; countless doctor appointments, pre-checks, and post-checks and all sundry of checks -- behind us -- I began to get giddy with excitement.
My darling hubby was wary. And while he made excuses for his wariness -- freezing temps, crowds of people, inaccessibility issues -- I knew that he was really just worried that my expectations were too high. He was trying to protect me from disappointment.
|Thanksgiving dinner in a New York restaurant...me and my Benjamin!|
But oh New York, you did not disappoint. From your beautiful parade and majestic sights to the talents on Broadway and beauty of Central Park, you exceeded my every expectation. You exceeded the imaginings of this really really good imaginer.
|Me and my guy at the Statue of Liberty -- with New York behind us!|
You opened the arms of your city and let me ice skate with my girls -- making sweet memories with two amazing young ladies who held me through this year, supporting me and their brother with baking, laundry and love!
You displayed the talent of your shining stars in Wicked, Newsies, and Once. And the joy of watching my four who love the theater soak all of that in was a priceless gift!
You gave me a scare when Times Square was bigger and brighter than I had remembered. I feared that would cause some anxiety for Benjamin, especially with the crowds. But oh, New York, instead you allowed him to realize that in all that glimmer and shine, the excitement of what might be around the next corner left no time for being anxious, no need to pause and worry, and he pushed himself and loved every minute. Every single minute.
|Me and my crew before Newsies!|
Please know I am taking each memory and holding it in my heart. I will savor and enjoy and pore over all 3,000 photos again and again. And every time, every time, I will thank you in my heart, New York. I will thank you for being a beacon to this scared and weary Mama for 12 long months and then for exceeding my hopes and dreams with every avenue, restaurant and street vendor.
With a grateful heart,