There is a common misconception that wishes are only for kids with cancer. Rosa, To’aiva’s mom, thought no differently. So when she was approached by her daughter’s case manager about a wish, she was skeptical.
“We didn’t want to go through a wish at first because we didn’t want to take advantage. We thought it was just for kids with cancer, but she [our case manager] told us that To’aiva would qualify,” Rosa recalled.
After all, To’aiva’s arduous medical journey had started before she was even born. “I found out that she had heart issues when I was 30 weeks pregnant,” said Rosa. And from there, her condition progressed. “At just three days old, she was medevaced to a hospital in San Diego. By four months old she had five major surgeries and at seven months she was medevaced again to a Texas hospital. She lived in a hospital until she was nine months old.”
Today, this 3-year-old has a list of life-threatening conditions that continues to grow, but her fighting spirit has kept her strong against all odds. “The doctors said they’ve never dealt with a child who has so many issues. There was something going on with almost every one of her organs,” Rosa said. “Nobody ever thought she would be where she’s at right now.”
With so much uncertainty and worry surrounding her, the one thing that remained constant in To’aiva’s life was her family. Although they were forced to be separated from each other for months at a time, they all learned to be strong for To’aiva, supporting her from afar. And it wasn’t just her dad, and two older siblings who were thinking of her, it was her entire family in Samoa who prayed for her from all the way across the pacific.
This love for family played a great influence on To’aiva’s one true wish. “For some kids, Disney is a dream. But when we were talking about Disney, it seemed like it would always be there,” Rosa recalled. “All To’aiva wanted was to see her dad and family in Samoa.”
The moment To’aiva and Rosa stepped off the plane in Samoa, they were greeted by a crowd of their loved ones. Both Rosa’s and her husband’s family came together to enjoy a worry-free week with To’aiva. For some, it was their first time meeting this rambunctious little girl they had heard so much about. They just wanted to love on her and help her in any way they could. “Everybody was working together to maintain her health. It was just so nice and comforting to be together as a family. It was a nice break. We didn’t have to go to any appointments or see any doctors.”
The best part of it all for Rosa? Seeing her kids smile. Watching her kids laugh and have fun brought tears to this young mother’s eyes. “With her, we have to cherish every moment,” she said. And they did. With every moment they spent with family, came a new and forever cherished memory.