About six weeks ago Rachael and I met with Chloe and her mom Missy at MD Anderson. Chloe is another melanoma patient and it was great to chat with them about what to expect and hear about their experiences with interferon and staying at the Ronald McDonald House. At one point during our lunch they were talking about when they went home and threw a “Welcome Home” party for Chloe. It was lovely, we said goodbye and I didn’t think much about that particular part of our conversation again.
Until about five days ago.
Some of my friends at the RMH started telling me how excited Rachael was to be going home to her party. Huh? What party? “Oh yes,” they told me, “She said she’s having pizza and cake and presents and all her friends and a sign and she’s very excited about the whole thing!” Apparently Rachael had been telling everyone who would listen except me about this great party she was going to have.
Reminder folks… Christmas is in less than two weeks and I haven’t been home in a month. And I have to whip together a party?! So I get on the phone with my friend Amanda, who happens to have four children. It went something like this: “I have to throw a party for Rachael and I don’t think I have it in me to plan one seeing as I’m not even home. Do you think you could bring all four of your kids and have them act like a whole room full of people?”
Then I started thinking more about it and frankly, getting a bit stressed about the whole thing and I thought, “Brilliant idea! I’ll just call her teacher and see if her class can throw a little ‘Welcome Back’ party! I’ll bring pizza and store bought cupcakes and it’s done.” Well, apparently Rachael had been talking to Marc too and now HE was all excited about the party so crap! I have to include him too which means no class party!
So I decide to call two other families that have little girls who are friends with Rachael. Ironically, she hasn’t seen either one of these little girls in several months – which is not terribly unusual once school starts, but she now had a burning desire to be welcomed back by all her people. “Um, can you come to my house day after tomorrow for a party?” They both said yes and lo and behold, I had the makings of a party!
Yesterday I went to the store and picked up a “Welcome Home” banner and a small balloon boquet which made Rachael look like a returning soldier as those things only come in red, white and blue. I pick up some plates, napkins, cups and a bottle of Sprite. One of my friends called and said, “I bought way too much stuff to bake Christmas cookies with so can I bring some cookies?” I felt a bit guilty saying yes but that didn’t stop me. Thank you Kim! I ordered pizza and when Tom got home at 3:30 I asked him to sit down and watch T.V. with Rachael so she wouldn’t get up from the couch. So while they are sitting there absorbed in Word Girl I “decorated”, got the pizza driver before he rang the bell and called everyone to tell them to coordinate coming to the door.
The doorbell rings and I say to Rachael, “I wonder who that could be?” She jumps up to run to the door, does a double take when she sees the decorations and says, “It’s probably one of my friends!!” She opens the door and 12 people are standing at the door yelling, “Welcome home Rachael!”
That moment, the moment that her jaw hit the floor and she was utterly speechless and just felt like the most special thing in the entire world, it was so very worth it.