All the Way to the End, All of Us Together

Published 10 years, 2 months past

Our first day here at Disney World, we tried to go on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but it was closed “for refurbishment”, so we decided to try Splash Mountain instead.  In addition to being a ride that was right there where we were, it promised to cool us off a bit.  Going from 30ºF to 90ºF in the space of a day was a bit rough on everyone.

Carolyn and Uncle Jim sat in the front seat of the log boat, and Rebecca sat between me and Kat in the next seat back.  Things started well enough as we splooshed and bobbed around bends, but fairly near the beginning of the ride, you get a glimpse of its (sort-of) end: a fifty-foot drop down to a splash pool.  Rebecca, seeing a log full of people fly past us down the ramp, the screams of its riders trailing in its wake, wasn’t at all happy.  She switched instantly from being amused at the water occasionally splashing her parents to scared of what was going to happen.

The various animatronic displays along the way helped distract her, but she kept returning back to her fear of the big hill.  Kat and I soothed her as best we could, telling her it would be all right.  She generally accepted this, calming down until the next time she remembered the big hill that lay ahead.  She never cried, exactly, but the fear was still there, an almost physical thing at times.

“I don’t wanna go down the big hill!”

“Honey, it’s all right.  It’s going to be okay.  We’re right here.  Mommy and I will keep you safe.”

“No, I don’t wanna, it’s too scary.”

“I know, sweetie.  I know you don’t.  But there’s no need to be afraid.  It’s coming and it will happen and then it will be over.  Try to enjoy all the little shows before.”

“Daddy, please let me get off the ride.”

“I can’t, honey.  If there was a way to get off, we’d take it, but there isn’t.  The ride goes where it goes, and we’ll go with it, together.”

“I wanna get off this ride!”

“I wish we could get off, Rebecca, but we’re on the ride now and we have to take it all the way to the end.  I know you’re scared, but we’re right here with you.  We’ll keep you safe, sweetie.  You don’t have to be afraid.”

We’d arrived at the bottom of the last climb, the one that would take us to the big drop.  She looked up the ascending tunnel into the bright, bright light streaming down, and shrank back, quivering, her eyes wide with fear.  She knew the moment was close.  I leaned in next to her, keeping my voice level and light.

“I know, Rebecca.  I know.  I know you’re scared, but it’s going to be all right.  It’s going to be all right.  It’ll be all done very soon.  Mommy’s here, and I’m here, and we’re with you until it’s over.  We’ll stay with you all the way to the end, all of us together.  We’ll be right here with you.  Always.”

The log was drawn up the hill, the drop coming closer and closer, relentlessly.  My arm around her shoulders, Kat’s arm around her shoulders, both of us hunched toward her tiny, trembling body pressed against our sides; and as we came to the precipice, she shut her eyes and squeezed our hands tight.

Comments (24)

  1. Oh Eric, such a metaphor for the ride you’re all on right now. Tell us, how can we help you, if at all? Just listen? Comment on your family’s situation? Bring in our own experiences? What can we do for you?

  2. My heart is breaking for you guys, been keeping up with your blog. I don’t know if it helps – but sending lots of positive vibes your family’s way.

  3. It’s wrong that I look forward to your posts, but I do, because your writing is so beautiful and honest, and the topic is so raw and moving. I never forget that you are writing about your daughter and that this is happening to a real family, and that’s part of what makes your posts so magnetic and engaging. My heart breaks for you a bit more with each post you write. I wish you all every moment of happiness you can have.

  4. Oh how much I wish this was not a metaphor… it would be a sweet story. I hope you are all enjoying Disney World!

  5. Holy shit, Eric. It is just too terribly perfect a metaphor.
    Have fun down there. I know you are doing this for Becca, and also building a store of memories for the rest of you.

  6. tears. she knows you’ve “got her back”

  7. My heart is heavy and sad. Just as you and Kat are there for Rebecca, Carolyn and Josh, we are all here for you and Kat. Even if all we can do is bear witness, we will continue to do so and hold you all in love.

  8. Thanks, Eric, for sharing all those thoughts and the wonderful metaphor. I sometimes think that children understand life at a deeper level than we do, because they are not used to filter everything as we often happen to out of routine.
    How can we help? I almost read your blog daily and have many positive thoughts for you and your family.

  9. Wow Eric. Just wow. I can’t fathom what you and your family are going through.

    Take some solace in the happy times you have right now. Peace and love…

  10. As a father, I’m at a loss for words. My heart is with you all.

  11. Eric, I just wanted to take a moment out of my day to say thank you so much for sharing these absolutely crushing moments. Life isn’t always “pretty” and sometimes it seems downright unbearable. I have a 6-year-old daughter and your posts help me remember how fragile life is and to hug all of my loved-ones a little tighter each night and to worry less about the “noise” that we have in our lives and focus on what is truly important. You will all be in my thoughts.

  12. My heart is breaking for you and your family. I will be praying for you all. I hope you have a wonderful time at Disney! Take lots of pictures and make some wonderful memories.

  13. Eric
    I’ve reading you for year now.
    People used to say to me “when you have a kid you will know how it feels”. I become a father 5 months ago. Now I know. I’m in constant fear although everything is fine. Reading about Rebecca teaches me how strong I must become for my boy, and you show to me how that is possible. I have nothing but sadness and a breaking heart for you and your family. But is reassuring how good parents are you both, I hope I can be half as good as you. My heart and feelings and prayers are with you.

  14. I’m so glad Rebecca has been lucky enough to have you two as her parents. #sob

  15. What Edward said. The way you are taking us through this ordeal with you is simply amazing. I wish it weren’t so, but thank you for what you are doing. My heart goes out to your entire family.

  16. All of the world’s kindness that I can give to you and your family.

  17. If only our tears could help take away some of your family’s pain or help Rebecca heal. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and letting us be part of your journey. If there is anything any of us can do — other than sending warm, healing thoughts your way — please let us know.

  18. I can’t even express how affecting this is…. As a father myself, I can only imagine what your family is going through. It is heartbreaking.

    This post moved me to tears, not only because of the genuine tragedy and sadness of the situation, but also because it is, in a very real way, a beautiful expression of your love for daughter.

    There may not be further medical or treatment options to help Rebecca, but the love and strength you are giving her is inspiring. The promise of “all of us together” is one thing you can give her for as long as you have together.

    My family is keeping yours in our hearts…

  19. Praying for your family throughout this journey. My heart is breaking for you. Keep journaling because someday they will be precious to you and your family. I know mine were after my daughter was born premature and after all her surgeries. ((HUGS))

  20. Yes. Amazing love overcomes fear.
    Over and over, I keep thinking how glad I am that you are Rebecca’s parents and that you are taking this journey with her.

  21. What all the other comments said, but also: you kind of left us dangling at the end – did she in the end get a kick out of the final drop? Never been to Disneyland myself… My kids beg me to take ’em but we’re stuck in a third-world country. It’s quite possible that they’ll end their lives without ever having been to DL.

    Anyway, hang in there.

  22. Thank you for so eloquently reminding us that we are always, have always been on this log ride. I can only wish your family peace and offer humble but heartfelt condolences.

  23. I’m so glad you all made it together to Walt Disney World. I think about Rebecca and all of you every day.

  24. I don’t know your family, but your powerful writing rips me open in a profound way. I’m sending love and light to your family. May it reach you across these miles.

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