Friday, March 28, 2014

Belfast Blessings: Invitation to Ireland

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One morning in January, I was laying in bed, listening to Noah breathe on the baby monitor after a long night of many sleep disturbances for Noah without cause or reason.  He was sleeping in, as was Luke who also can't sleep through Noah's noises and needs.  I turned on the television waiting for both children to awaken for the final time that morning and happened to watch whatever channel it first came to.  A movie titled P.S. I Love You was on.  I had seen it prior to Noah being born, but vaguely remembered it.  The premise of the movie is about a grieving widow that loses beloved husband to a brain tumor and learns that he left a series of letters behind to help her cope with the pain of living without him.

These letters send her on a trip back to Ireland, her husband's native country.  And that's about the part of the movie I caught that January morning.  I remember thinking to myself, wow, it's so green, beautiful and soothing (even knowing it likely was fictional and maybe not even necessarily filmed there); it was the fantasy of how pretty it was - and something within my soul craved to be there.  I dismissed my feelings as just stemming from my mother's Irish heritage and maybe a slight fancy for the Irish dialect.  My mind wandered for a moment and then I wanted to slap myself silly... what are you thinking I thought?  You will never ever travel again now that you have a child with special needs, let alone to another country.   We had never been more than 40 miles in any direction from home since Noah's birth. 

Two weeks later fate, destiny, divine intervention,  power of intention... or whatever you'd call it happened.  An unexpected invitation was extended to take Noah to Ireland to participate in the launch of the Upsee, a piece of special needs equipment by Firefly a division of Leckey. It's one of those pinch me moments (I'm not wearing green)... is that really happening kind of thing.  But the invite was very real.   For the first time in our lives Chris and I really had to consider if a trip with a child like Noah was even realistic.   It didn't take us long to really come to the conclusion that this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for Noah and for us as a family.  And a chance to bring so much information to families with children with special needs.

One night Chris asked very seriously in fact, "Do Leprechauns come from Ireland."  I laughed and said, "well technically yes, but don't expect to find a pot of gold."  But if by chance I did find a wee Leprechaun and he granted me part of his gold, I'd help every child with special needs that I could find.

We scrambled to have passports expedited, figure out what we'd have to pack to take a child on an international trip; obtained doctor's letters, contacted TSA Cares, and made a checklist of all the things that were necessary in Noah's daily life.   At first it was a bit overwhelming, but it was really because we were charting unknown territories.  We were not experienced travelers - especially when it came to attempting to travel with a severely disabled child.  I questioned over and over again am I making the right decision?  Should we just never leave the boundaries of our home?  And then I received an unexpected message from a friend that had no idea we were getting ready to embark on a very long and special journey to Ireland.  It read:  "A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there."  It spoke to my soul and gave me the confirmation and reassurance that I was seeking.  We were meant to go.  We needed to grow.  

Two days later we boarded a plane from Denver to London, with a brief layover in London to Belfast, both directions.  Two carseats on rollers, two carry-on backpacks, two children, a wheelchair and junior rider seat to attach to the wheelchair, with three big bags of checked in luggage.  There we were blazing a trail through an airport on our very first journey from home.  Full of bravery and courage we walked down the gates to board the plane.


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.