Although Disneyland isn’t always the happiest place on earth, it is magical. I’m so glad I got to experience it with my mom, brother, and close friends.
Thanks to the timing of my mom’s treatment, and the generosity of friends and family, my brother and I were able to experience Disneyland with my mom and a group of our friends back in 2011. For health reasons, she rented a scooter and lead our group around all day. Most of the time it was just Mrs. Bigham and all the kids! She was the biggest kid of all. Here are some of the highlights from that trip.
September 16, 2011
I left my hotel at 2pm on a scooter to head to Disneyland to meet the kids. The scooter was so fun to operate that I had gone 3 blocks before I realized I was going the wrong way! Too funny. I turned around and went to Disneyland. I met the kids at the Haunted Mansion. Everyone had fast passes except Jianna. So, instead of doing nothing while everyone else rode the ride, Jianna and I went on it via the handicapped entrance. It wasn’t my favorite ride, but when in Rome… After the first dark room, Jianna said to me, “Mrs. Bigham, there’s nobody in the room anymore. I think we have to move.” Because my chemo treatment makes adjusting from light to dark very difficult, I’m generally blind at first when going from light to dark. I told Jianna, “Do you mind leading me? And please don’t leave me, because I can’t see anything!” She did, lead me that is.
After the Haunted Mansion, we went on Indianan Jones. Because I could take 5 people with one scooter (including me) and not have to wait in line, I took two consecutive trips on the ride with 5 kids each. The rest of the evening was going on Disneyland roller coasters, mostly twice, to get all the kids to be able to go in without having to wait in long lines. We left at midnight. I was surprised I felt so good!
I was surprised too! The only side effect that seemed to limit my mom was her eye sight. But on the dark rides Blake and his friends, Joe and Michael, would guide Laurie with their cell phone lights or Blake would maneuver the scooter for her. Kind of a ride within a ride!
The scooter turned out to be a great way for my mom to get around the parks, but it wasn’t always easy to say the least.
September 17, 2011
We had problems finding a place for me and my scooter to view the fireworks, and Karlie, Jason, Ginger (who were trying to help me), and I got separated from the group. Stressed Disneyland employees forced us to keep moving along and selfish guest wouldn’t let us in anywhere. Plus, the flash of the fireworks would make it hard for me to see in the dark. I didn’t get to see the fireworks hardly at all, and was glad there was a hell that a lot of the people who treated me badly were going to and that I wasn’t Christ because I wouldn’t have died for a one of them! I did repent the next day for my anger and lack of compassion.
Sure, maybe my mom overreacted, but watching how people treated her on the scooter definitely made me rethink how I act around the handicapped and those in wheelchairs. They are people too.
That second day Mom was able to work a way for all of us to go on rides together with her handicap pass. Still, our group was well over twenty people, and with a group that size getting us all on the same rides at the same time was proving to be a challenge. We went on a lot of the same rides from the previous day, which I could tell bothered my mom, so I pulled her aside and said, “Let’s go do the rides we want to do.”
September 19, 2011
Today we were able to go off into smaller groups and do different rides. Karlie and I went to see Great Moments with Lincoln and Ariel’s Under The Sea Adventure. We also went on the Tower of Terror. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Blake, Karlie and I went on Soaring over California and Goofy’s Flight School together. That evening Kirsten watched the twins while Wendy and Tim “tried” to go on rides. We waited in line for the Matterhorn and it broke down just as we got there. Then we went to Splash Mountain and it was broke too. Wendy just fell to the ground laughing because all the rides seemed to break before they could ride or while on them. Peter Pan broke before they could ride. Goofy’s Flight School broke down while Blake and the other guys were on it, Ariel’s Under The Sea Adventure broke twice on Karlie and I, Space Mountain broke on Jason and his group, Indiana Jones also malfunctioned on as. It was quite comical. Disneyland closed at 8 pm. The kids had pizza at the hotel while the adults ate at Downtown Disney. It was a fun time.
Between the rides breaking down and rude people, you would think we had a terrible time. But moments where everything goes wrong are always the most memorable. Disneyland isn’t the happiest place on earth because of the “perfect Disneyland experience.” What makes it the happiest place on earth are the people you experience it with.
Pilgrim’s Progress is one of my favorite books! If you’ve never read it, it’s an allegorical tale about the Christian walk. In it a man named Christian goes on a journey to the Celestial City.
Shortly after my mom’s passing, one of our pastors made the comparison between my mom and the character Hopeful from Pilgrim’s Progress. We all have encouragers in our life, Laurie was that to many.
Below is a section from the book and my pastor’s thoughts on Laurie as Hopeful.
I was thinking about Pilgrims Progress tonight I realized how Laurie Bigham has been like the character Hopeful over the past seven years. Always encouraging others to be of good cheer and always with her eyes on the Celestial City. She played a huge part in keeping my head above water.
THE LAST DIFFICULTIES
These men asked the pilgrims whence they came, and they told them; they also asked them where they had lodged, what difficulties and dangers, what comforts and pleasures they had met in the way; and they told them. Then said the men that met them, “You have but two difficulties more to meet with, and then you are in the City.”
CHRISTIAN then, and his companion, asked the men to go along with them; so they told them they would. “But,” said they, “you must obtain it by your own faith.” So I saw in my dream that they went on together till they came in sight of the gate.
Now I further saw that betwixt them and the gate was a river; but there was no bridge to go over: the river was very deep. At the sight, therefore, of this river, the pilgrims were much astounded; but the men that went with them said, “You must go through, or you cannot come at the gate.”
The pilgrims then began to inquire if there was no other way to the gate; to which they answered, “Yes, but there hath not any, save two, to wit, Enoch and Elijah, been permitted to tread that path since the foundation of the world, nor shall until the last trumpet shall sound”.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52
The pilgrims then – especially CHRISTIAN – began to despond in their minds; and looked this way and that, but no way could be found by them by which they might escape the river. Then they asked the men if the waters were all of a depth? They said, “No”; yet they could not help them in that case, for said they, “you shall find it deeper or shallower as you believe in the King of the place.”
They then addressed themselves to the water; and entering, CHRISTIAN began to sink. And crying out to his good friend, HOPEFUL, he said, “I sink in deep waters, the billows go over my head; all his waves go over me.”
Then said the other, “Be of good cheer, my brother; I feel the bottom, and it is good.” Then said CHRISTIAN, “Ah! my friend, the sorrows of death have compassed me about; I shall not see the land that flows with milk and honey. And with that a great darkness and horror fell upon CHRISTIAN, so that he could not see before him; also here he, in great measure, lost his senses, so that he could neither remember nor orderly talk of any of those sweet refreshments that he had met with in the way of his pilgrimage. But all the words that he spake still tended to discover that he had horror of mind, and hearty fears that he should die in that river, and never obtain entrance in at the gate; here also, as they that stood by perceived, he was much in the troublesome thoughts of the sins that he had committed, both since and before he began to be a pilgrim. ‘Twas also observed that he was troubled with apparitions of hobgoblins and evil spirits; for ever and anon he would intimate so much by words. HOPEFUL, therefore, here had much ado to keep his brother’s head above water; yea, sometimes he would be quite gone down, and then ere awhile he would rise up again half dead. HOPEFUL also would endeavour to comfort him, saying, “Brother, I see the gate, and men standing by it to receive us.” But CHRISTIAN would answer, “‘Tis you, ’tis you they wait for; you have been hopeful ever since I knew you.” “And so have you,” said he to CHRISTIAN. “Ah, brother,” said he, “surely, if I was right, he would now arise to help me; but, for my sins, he hath brought me into the snare, and hath left me.” Then said HOPEFUL, “My brother, you have quite forgot the text where it is said of the wicked, ‘There are no bands in their death, but their strength is firm; they are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men’.
“For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.” Psalms 73:4, 5
These troubles and distresses that you go through in these waters are no sign that God hath forsaken you; but are sent to try you, whether you will call to mind that which heretofore you have received of his goodness, and live upon him in your distresses.”
Then I saw in my dream that CHRISTIAN was as in a muse awhile, to whom also HOPEFUL added this word, “Be of good cheer, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole “; and with that CHRISTIAN brake out with a loud voice, “Oh, I see him again! and he tells me, ‘When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee'”.
“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:2
Then they both took courage, and the enemy was after that as still as a stone, until they were gone over. CHRISTIAN therefore presently found ground to stand upon; and so it followed that the rest of the river was but shallow. Thus they got over.
Now upon the bank of the river, on the other side, they saw the two shining men again who there waited for them; wherefore, being come up out of the river, they saluted them, saying, “We are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those that shall be heirs of salvation.” Thus they went along towards the gate. Now you must note that the City stood upon a mighty hill; but the pilgrims went up that hill with ease, because they had these two men to lead them up by the arms; also they had left their mortal garments behind them in the river; for though they went in with them, they came out without them. They therefore went up here with much agility and speed; though the foundation upon which the City was framed was higher than the clouds. They therefore went up through the regions of the air, sweetly talking as they went; being comforted, because they safely got over the river, and had such glorious companions to attend them.
Time is a funny thing. It goes by so fast and yet can slow down to almost a stand still. No matter what time never stops.
That’s the hard part of grief – life must go on. Everything in you wants to shout at the world to stop! Your world has stopped, why shouldn’t it for everyone else?
They say grief gets easier with time. In a way, this is true. It’s been two years since my mom died and I’m finally moving forward in my life. The first year was definitely the hardest. Time really slowed down. I felt lost and stuck in life. In comparison, this year has gone by so quickly already, and so much has changed for the better it’s almost hard to believe where I was at in my life this time last year. Still I wouldn’t say this year was easier than the first. I’m grateful for each season. Sorrow has taught me much and Joy has taught me much.
Grief looks different for everyone. For some the healing process doesn’t take that long, and for others it takes much longer. Just because someone has gone through the healing process doesn’t mean the grief goes away. There will always be scars from grief. As long as you keep the memory of your loved one alive in your heart, you will always have some sense of loss. Over time the pain gets “easier” – less intense and frequent. Then comes the guilt with moving on. That’s why I don’t see it as getting over grief, but learning to walk with grief, allowing it to change as you change. After all that’s life, ever changing. The one thing that won’t change? God’s love.
This is the first time I’ve been away from home since my mom’s death. I wasn’t able to visit her grave today, but I made sure to do so before I left. I know it’s just her body in the ground and that she’s in a better place, but it helps me feel more connected to her by visiting this stone of remembrance. Living life without my mom is hard, but I’m ready to live again. And I will always love her. No amount of time can change that.