We waved William off to CHASE with his nurse, waited for Hope to get home from school and set off to the theatre. We got there a lot earlier than I had planned but I am so glad we hung around! We picked up the tickets first and got our first lovely surprise. With the tickets were three programmes, personally signed by Lee for Hope, Ellie and William. The girls were so happy and, as ever, very pleased to see one for William too.
Ellie so wanted to catch a glimpse of Lee and give him the card and letter she had made for him. It was very early but we decided to go to the Stage Door where I was hoping to have a quick chat with someone and ask if they could ask him to say hello to her as he entered or make sure he got her letter. I explained the situation to a girl on the door who said she would try and talk to someone when they arrived but that it would be a while everyone would turn up. Just as she was saying that she said 'Oh, speak of the devil' and there was Lee!
Ellie got her moment, gave him her card personally and we took some lovely pictures. I gave Lee a very brief version of Ellie's story and why she loves his music and asked him to read her letter. Ellie was beside herself and kept on hugging me and giggling all night. I haven't seen her so happy in such a long time. Hope was very happy for Ellie but she is not so 'star struck'. Over tea, she told me that she thinks everyone is the same, just some people choose to be actors or pop singers - 'People like Lee are very talented and I really love to watch them do what they do but it doesn't mean they are anything special when they are just shopping or out with their mates really does it!' An unusual opinion in someone her age and very healthy too I think. Hope's highlight came later when she got to see backstage. She asked loads of questions about how things work and how practical challenges are met. She was fascinated by the how the back drop and curtain changes work, how actors deal with fast costume changes, the revolving stage and what measures are taken to make sure Joseph is safe when he is elevated.
We were invited backstage by one of the guys we were talking when Lee turned up. After Lee went in, he carried on talking to us and wanted to help make our evening special. Having met Lee so early, we were able to have a long and relaxing meal at TGI Fridays. Hope and I waved at Ellie up on the ceiling and threw her up the odd forkful of food and spoon of ice-cream! Ellie kept on grabbing us and hugging us with excitement.
The show was fantastic. The seats we had were perfect, near the front of the stalls and right in the middle. The whole cast are amazing. Both girls were really happy and excited throughout. I sat between them and it was so nice to be able to cuddle up together and enjoy an evening away from all the stress. None the less, I was relieved to get a text from the hospice to say that all was well with William. Ellie kept on saying over and over again 'I met Lee Mead!' 'I can't believe I met Lee Mead!!' We danced, sung and clapped our way through the 'mega mix' and had loads of fun together. There were a couple next to Ellie who were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary and had left their own children at home. The poor things had an over excited Ellie chatting to them throughout the interval so they didn't quite get the child-free break they had hoped for. They did say they enjoyed Ellie's company - I hope so!
We then waited in our seats for the guy who had promised to take us back stage. It was fascinating to see everything. We saw how everthing worked, sat on the golden chariot and saw all the props and the animals. We were shown all Lee's costumes and all tried on THE coat. It is really hot and heavy. I am so impressed with how he bounds around the stage so energetically in it. On the way home, Hope and Ellie sung '
"We wore the coat, with golden lining, bright colours shining..."
"So Hope, Ellie and Mummy went backstage
No longer feeling cold
And Chris said we could sit in Joseph's chariot of Gold - Of Gold!
We wore your coloured coat, your amazing coloured coat!"
Ellie declared that her dress will never be washed again because Lee hugged her in it and she wore his coat in it.
It was a fantastic evening and we are all so grateful for CHASE for arranging it, the 'Really Useful Company' for donating our fantastic tickets, Lee for giving Ellie a few moments of his precious time and to Chris for showing us around the stage. Yesterday, I said I wanted to give the girls a really special evening to remember forever. All of these people made that happen. I know there are going to be more blogs about surgery and hospitals over the next few weeks. We will all be looking back at this one to cheer us up and I know the girls have a fantastic memory of a very special 'Mummy Day'. That is what was the most important thing about today for all of us. A special time together away from the stress and upset and a time where Hope and Ellie had Mummy all to themselves. This is why Ellie loves Joseph and Lee Mead's music so much. From the moment we decided that watching 'Any Dream Will Do' was our girly time with a rule of no non-urgent medical stuff, Ellie had those special memories of Mummy time. Her CD give her the same feeling when she is away and when William is ill. She now has a very special memory to think of to go with all that. Unfortunately, things have become more unsettled and complicated with William over the last year and the 'ring fenced' girly time got somewhat more ad hoc. We all agreed we need to find it again and have more special days out together too. They enjoyed and appreciated even little things, like going on a tube - impossible with William unless you know in advance there are lifts at all stations. For now though, there are two very tired and very very happy little girls tucked up in bed right now and that makes for a happy Mummy too.