By Carrie Leising, Guest Blogger
Extraordinarily, I saw the best fireworks the summer that I was diagnosed with cancer. I was in and out of the hospital, and my parents were staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Orange County, CA. The week before 4th of July, I went through a round of chemo, and my teenage crabbiness escalated. Just in time for 4th of July, my doctor discharged me from the hospital. But I wasn’t 100%. Going home, four hours away was out of the question. My only option was to stay at the Ron Don, my nickname for the Ronald McDonald House, with my parents.
In honor of the 4th of July, the Ron Don volunteers barbequed for families staying at the House and went all out to make it an amazing feast. But I wanted to see fireworks!
Taking a recommendation from a Ronald McDonald House volunteer, my parents drove us to the hills to see fireworks. I remember sitting on a lawn-chair in awe: oohing, ahhing and clapping. I kept saying, “That was my favorite!” or “No, now, that one was my favorite!” These were not ordinary fireworks, but awesome fireworks of color, with the biggest disks of sparkly gold, white and purple that I loved.
Focused on fireworks, and not the hospital, not the unknown and not the cancer, I decided that they were the best fireworks. Maybe because they gave me a slice of normalcy, something I craved in my world of darkness. The radiance of the fireworks reassured me, just like the Ron Don did for my parents. The House provided a home away from home. They gave us the best 4th of July.
When and where did you seen the best fireworks?
Carrie Leising moved to Austin in 2007 with her husband and dog and has been cancer-free for 16 years. She spent a lot of time at the Orange County Ronald McDonald House when she was a teenager. She has visited five “Ron Don” Houses, including volunteering for and supporting Orange County, San Diego and Austin RMHC and Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times. Her motto: Pay It Forward.