Wednesday, October 21, 2015

the big surprise


Oh, where do I begin?  A few weeks back, Rick mentioned we'd be taking a trip.  At some point he mentioned it was a "surprise," and all he could share with us was we were headed to Minneapolis for the MEA break from school. (Thursday, Oct, 15th) 



So a few days before we were supposed to pack for our 3.5 hour ride in the car, we started asking more questions.  What were we doing?  Where, exactly, were we going?  

Rick simply said, pack for 4 days, casual attire, and just know you'll have lots to do and you'll have a great time.

If living with cancer has taught me anything?  Its this- sometimes, you just do, whatever is in front of you, with little thought about why.  

So I packed.  We packed.  

Then Thursday morning we hopped in the car.

And then like every. other. trip.  Rick had to make 1 quick stop before we got on the highway.  He had to drop off a picture for a woman who was at work in Fargo.

Sigh... so classic for Rick.  We didn't even blink.

As he pulled into a loading zone, he ran into the building.

And we sat.

Waiting.

To go to the cities.

But...

Rick soon came back to the car and said this "Vicky, the woman working inside is a fan of your blog, and would like to meet you- all of you.  Could you come inside?"

"Of course," I say, as I glance at my watch and think about our need to get on the road.

So we all go inside the beautiful building.

She greets us all with the biggest smile.  Have we been to the Fargo Jet Center before?  

No, we haven't.

We walk around and take it all in. 



She then casually points at the plane sitting outside getting ready for departure.

She turns to Colton, "So if you could fly anywhere, where would you like to go?"

Colton stammers, "Ahhh, Miami?"  

Then he points to me- "mom would go someplace warm."

We all laugh.

Then the woman, smiles and says, 

"So how about Pittsburgh, PA?  Any Penguins fans here?  How would you all like to go to Pittsburgh today, and watch the Penguins play tonight?"

Suddenly, I'm searching her face... my mind is in such shock... is she for real?

"Are you saying, all of us, are going today?' I ask?

And then she points, to the plane, waiting just outside, and says "Yes!  Right now!" 

And I lose it. I just lose it.  Tears burst from my eyes, as I lean over,  and then I see Nolan... who has literally fallen to his knees and is also in tears. "Really?  REALLY?"

"Yes!"  

Rick is misty-eyed, the woman is wiping tears, and suddenly we're all shaking with excitement!  And hugging, and shaking our heads.  Is this real?





And then we sit, and try to wrap our brains around this crazy, awesome, mind-blowing, surprise.  Then Rick snaps a quick picture.

We're offered a tour around the hangars, and it suddenly occurs to me, we're waiting for someone.

A short while later, Jeff, Sherri, and their son, Ben walk through the door.  When Ben's eyes see us, and then the plane behind the windows, the surprise takes over his face too!  Ben is related to Matt Cullen.  Bridget and Matt have planned this whole surprise for all of us! 



Ben thought he was in Fargo to help his parents get supplies... we all just keep shaking our heads in pure awe and wonderment.

Best. Surprise. Ever!








Suddenly, the pilot is greeting each one of us, and it's time to go!  






That is sheer excitement on Nolan's face- and probably Ben's too.



And that is, the "tummy tickle," Colton experiences as we take off.  We haven't flown in a plane since the boys were very little!  



A quick refueling stop in Milwaukee, and some time to explore the plane.





Ben with his mom, Sherri.


We flew at 42.000 feet!  The views were spectacular and I couldn't stop taking pictures.  We all loved that everyone got a "window," seat as well as an "aisle" seat.  It was literally the smoothest flight I've ever experienced.  It was still all so surreal.  But the expressions on our faces are real and very telling.





Just a little over 2 hours later, and we were in Pittsburgh, with taxis waiting to take us to our hotel.  We had just a few hours before the Pittsburgh Penguins would play against the Ottawa Senators.





Our hotel, was right across the street from the ice arena.





Could we be any luckier?  I don't think my smile left my face in over 4 days.  

Going to an NHL game is a pretty special treat.  But when you get to see someone from your home town, play?  And you enjoy the experience with his family and yours?  It doesn't get any better than this.




#7- our Matt Cullen.



#87 Sidney Crosby (Ben and Nolan had been to Shattuck St. Mary's for summer camp, where Sidney had gone to school for a year.) 



#29 Marc-André Fleury.  (Colton has always loved watching him play.)


While the boys and I sat in the seats, Rick got a press pass to shoot photos at ice level, for the Fargo Forum.  (Will post a link when his pictures get published.)


I think it's really great to be a fan of a player, like Matt Cullen.  He has all the talent, skill, and hard work, put together to make him the phenomenal player that he is... but more importantly to me?  I'm a fan of what a great person he is, inside, as well as outside of hockey.  Plus...


he picked her.  Bridget, is the one who dreamt this dream, that was far bigger than I could have ever imagined, for our little family.  And then she pieced it all together- seamlessly- flawlessly.  Every last detail, covered.




And if you think the "story" of our adventure can't get any bigger?  Yep, you'd be wrong.  

On our last night in Pittsburgh, Nolan and Ben hadn't been able to cross paths with Sidney Crosby.  So we were gathering to go to the car with Bridget, when Sidney walked past us.  And Bridget, knew exactly what to tell our boys... Run!  Catch him!  Go!  And they did- down through the halls, around the corners, faster and faster we all went, until, Sidney slowed, and turned around.  

"Are you the boys from Minni?"  And I'm struck by how thick his Canadian accent shines through.  The boys do a good job of carrying on a conversation with him, while clearly being awestruck the whole time.


It was a shining moment that had very little to do with anything we did.  It was just meant to be.  We've all been learning how to live in surrender, to the havoc that having cancer can wreak on your life, but sometimes that surrender means you're open to all the things that come your way- the shining moments of light, that help carry you through the dark.

We couldn't have hung out with a better group of people.  Sherri, and Jeff, with Jeff and Janna. 














All too soon, it was time to head back to Minnesota.  


I'm still not sure any of us have wrapped our heads around all that happened to us. 

The one little gem I garnered, and was able to share with Matt and Bridget was this- when you live with cancer its a 24-7 reality.  We had just talked about this in our group, Fourward.  How do you ever escape centering your life around cancer?  I've lived with it for 4 and 1/2 years, and its a heavy burden to carry.  So the biggest gift they gave to me?  To my family? Was a break from cancer.  Mentally, emotionally, and physically, we all got a reprieve from our life of hard and gritty.   As far down as cancer can take me at times, this hockey trip moved me in glorious and profound ways , in such an uplifting manner.  I lived my moments- a whole string of them- more fully than I have been able to in a long time!  



We're overflowing with gratitude, for what two people did so generously for us.  We could say thank you a million times over, and it wouldn't begin to touch how grateful we continue to be. 










These beautiful flowers are from my Uncle Bill and Aunt Carol,  and my Aunt Marlene, in honor of my mom.  They were on the altar of their church on Sunday, because Mom would have turned 80 today!  

I kept saying to Rick, on our trip, I just want to call mom and tell her!  I have no doubt, she was with us, but I still miss her.  I can only wonder what shenanigans she would have attempted today- with a twinkle in her eye- always.  










48 comments:

  1. So happy for you Vicky! A surprise every member of the family could enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bonnie- so great to see you here! Yes- it truly was something that touched us all in so many ways!

      Delete
  2. oh goodness...that's what this was. pure, unadulterated goodness!! so glad to see all of you smiling and enjoying such a great trip!! i love that your boys didn't try to be cool and keep it together when they were told--their tears of happiness and the thrill of the opportunity conveyed how truly grateful they were too.

    continue to live your moments, dearheart. they are encouraging all of us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think any of us could have contained ourselves- it was such a moment of sheer joy and indescribable emotions of the best kind. I am also so happy to hear that ripples of what we felt are reaching others in encouragement. Blessings to you~

      Delete
  3. How wonderfully amazing for you, Rick and boys, Vicky! You must of felt like you were in a dream at first! The pictures show really show how excited you all were. This trip will remain with you for a very long time. You are truly blessed with such great friends who love you. xxxooo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Eileen- yes that is exactly how we felt- like we were all in a dream. We are blessed beyond measure!

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. Sweet Kass- thanks for sharing in the joy and the tears with us!

      Delete
  5. You KNOW this makes me overFLOWING with sheer GLEE!! From the fact of you, Rick, and the boys, as well as friends getting to go, to the fact that there are these PHENOMENAL people in the world who would plan this, execute it, pay for it, make it GRAND, and find this unique and special way to bless SUCH a deserving family as yours THRILLS me beyond expression.

    Thank you for sharing and encouraging all of us with this and with all your posts, sweet Vicky. Love you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love how you share in all of it with me, Robynn! I am so happy you are back home, resting, healing and recovering. My prayers continue as you get back on your feet again. Love you, Robynn!

      Delete
    2. Oh Robin, dear friend I am praying for you too... for healing and recovery.
      I love how many capital, exclaiming words of PRAISE and EXCITEMENT you use.
      It made me smile to read your words!!! We are cut out of the same cloth!!
      Love, Linda

      Delete
    3. Thank you both for prayers! Nearly a week in the hospital was enough for me and now just needing more answers as to why it's not clearing up well. It made me miss my time taking care of my friend who just had a double mastectomy and that has been one of the hardest things. She seriously needs me and I'm not there. (She's 100 miles from me so I have to stay with her. Pain and nausea are preventing that.) If you could please pray that these two symptoms would heal and subside I would be SOOOO appreciative! And Linda, I think we found each other in our words on Vicky's page. :) Love to you, too!

      Delete
  6. So thrilled for ALL OF YOU. What an exciting adventure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Libby- so great to see you here! I pray you are doing well!

      Delete
  7. just wonderful - absolutely LOVE seeing how well you are loved and looked after! God is so good and faithful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true-God is good- Tiffany! So great to see you here and I love that you come and celebrate along with us! Love you!

      Delete
  8. How wonderful! There are so many kind, generous, loving people in the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Francis- so very true! Blessings to you~

      Delete
  9. Oh my dear Lord,
    The tears are flowing and there is a grin on my face from ear-to-ear. What a PERFECT surprise and no one, and I mean, NO ONE, deserves this more than you do, my dear soul sis! And how perfect for the boys and Rick! Answered prayers, truly answered prayers! I am ecstatic!!

    Ahhh, a break from cancer and a reminder of life's JOYS! And I can hardly believe that is Nolan, he seems even older and more handsome! It makes my heart sing that he and Coltn got to do this. And your beloved Rick...the secret keeper...a life-time memory.

    I loved EVERY photo and seeing the smiles on your faces. :) :)

    This made my day, no my week!! Love you deep and wide, Vicky!
    Love and hugs and prayers!
    Linda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Linda- I had hoped there would be some kind of a ripple effect that others may feel the joy, too! Rick and I have been so inspired to want to be the exact same way- simply sharing our gifts with others in whatever ways we can. Thanks for sharing in this with us!

      Delete
  10. Wow, just wow! And thank you taking us along on this incredible journey, Vicky. I am so incredibly happy for you! Your family definitely deserved this little break. You'll be flying high for a while. I loved the little snapshot of Bridget. What a gem she is, and what a gem you are, friend. Hugs and more hugs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for celebrating along with us, Roxane! I love that I can look back, and relive these beautiful moments along with friends like you! Hugs right back to you!

      Delete
  11. OMGoodness, this is the BEST story ever!! How sweet and generous for them to have done this for you and your family. I am so glad you all had a wonderful time. BRAVO!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Pinky- so sweet of you to come and leave such sweet words!

      Delete
  12. I'm smiling, and crying through your whole post.
    and I so get it, just a break from the reality.....just a break. It means everything, and the people who gave it to you, priceless.
    Thank you for sharing with us...........I am so happy for you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just knew you'd get this, Hilary- so true- just the pure gift of a break. Praying you have one coming your way as well.

      Delete
  13. Reading this on the road: HooRAY and hallelujah!! I am overjoyed for you, dear Vicky!!! Love and hugs and prayers, and extra hugs and extra love!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thank you, Susan- with all you've been through, its so sweet of you to come and celebrate this moment with me. Love and hugs to you!

      Delete
  14. Left me in tears Vicky...how completely amazing and I know nothing about hockey but I'm a BIG fan of Matt and Bridget too :) ox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robin, I love that you can tell how truly awesome they are. xoxo

      Delete
  15. this was so much fun to read and the excitement in all of it was simply amazing!!! WOW WOW WOW….what a great surprise and trip!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It truly was- the excitement never really dissipates- this one will stay with us for a long time to come!

      Delete
  16. As a Pittsburgher for the past 25 years, I'm so thrilled that you got to have such a great time in the city I love so much. I can't think of a family so deserving of this memory making experience. Do my eyes deceive me or is that a famous "Pittsburgh salad" in one of the pictures? It sure looked like there were fries on there to me!

    Stephanie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stephanie, how wonderful to have you here! I love that you described what a Pittsburgh Salad would be- I can't say for sure if it had fries, but I can say the food was great everywhere we went! I can see why you love Pittsburgh- I'd go again. So much to do and see and the views of the mountains were stunning!

      Delete
  17. This brought me to tears. How wonderful!! How incredibly wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're so blessed- it truly was wonderful!

      Delete
  18. Hi Vicky, I'm the gal from the Fargo Jet Center and I just have to say........you and your family made my day. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life if even for a moment. I'm glad you had a wonderful trip. Take care of yourself and battle, battle, battle through this cancer! Love, Dawndi Ulmer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dawndi- I'm so glad you took the time to let me know your name. You got the whole trip off to such a wonderful start! Thank you for all you did to help make it so special for all of us!

      Delete
  19. OH MY GOSH!!!!! OK, we need a 3 hr couch potato talk real soon!!!! What wonderful, generous and kind friends you have in the Cullens!!! They love you sooooo much!!!! We are so happy for all of you. The best, simply the best!! No other words can describe such great people!!! oxoxoxoxoxo Barb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love you friend- glad we got lots of time together before you had to go!! So grateful for all you do for us- you're such an angel! Love you!

      Delete
  20. I'm crying happy tears for you!!!

    So, so, so happy for you and yours~~~~~~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Julie- we're still beaming too!

      Delete
  21. Wow, this really brought a big smile to my face this morning. When people put in the effort, big or small, to help others make memories or dreams come true, it's just awesome. And it reaches far beyond in that it makes others, like myself, feel the love and excitement. Good for you and yours....you deserve such happiness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right- the ripple effect takes place and I think it reaches way beyond me or my family. Thank you for your insightful and kind words!

      Delete
  22. Wow! Wow! Wow! What an amazing surprise! What a blessing to have people in your life who love you so much. It looks like you guys just had a fantastic time, and I love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Melissa- we truly did have an unforgettable time!

      Delete
  23. This was SO MUCH FUN!! Thank you, Vicky, for sharing your amazing surprise trip with us! So happy for you and your family to be able to enjoy such a wonderful trip and leave it all behind for awhile! Continued prayers always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nina, for coming along to share in this with us! I appreciate those prayers immensely as well!

      Delete

I welcome what you have to say. Thanks for taking the time to grace me with your thoughts and words!

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

Popular Posts

Minnesota.com

Minnesota.com - MN Weather, Map, Businesses and Blogs