Yes, I bring up Wil Wheaton a lot. I also link to his site and such often. There is a reason and I think now, 2 weeks away from Mega Con, is a perfect time to explain it. Brace yourselves, this is likely going to be long.
I made mention before of my health issues. I’ve been in and out of wheelchairs and on and off of crutches my whole life. I’ve had to re-learn how to walk 3 times. I’ve been told by doctors I would never walk again. I’ve been sick, from the annoying (strep throat 12 times in one winter) to the dangerous (meningitis at age 9). Joint issues, lung issues, heart issues, other issues and more allergies than you can shake a stick at tends to make my doctors wealthy yet bemoaning that they have to find some way to treat me around my allergies and issues.
In 1987 Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered. My parents had raised me on reruns of the original Star Trek so I was excited for this new show. I’d had a crush on Wil since Stand By Me and I loved getting to watch him every week. It also didn’t hurt that he was playing a character that was kind of an oddball, a lone, but not by his own design. Wesley had spent so much time around adults that he tended to act and think more like one than one of the kids (kind of like me, with all my time absent from school), and when he did act like a kid the grown ups were harsher on him because they expected better (again, kind of like me, but my parents aren’t the subject here).
That year also marked another sentencing to a wheelchair for me. Arthritis had cause my left hip and knee to lock up so I couldn’t walk and I was told I likely would never walk again. I had home-bound classes with teachers coming to my house for lessons. One of my English assignments was to write two fan letters. One of the letters I sent off was to Wil. I will never know if the other fan letter ever made it to the person it was mailed to, but I know Wil got mine. About a month or so after I mailed the letter I got an envelope in the mail. In it was a signed photograph from Wil saying “Thanks, having fans like you makes it all worthwhile.”
I was ecstatic! My mom picked up the mail on our way to physical therapy, so the picture came with us and I showed it to everyone. I was so excited I couldn’t stand it. He had written something to me! He had actually read my letter and sent me something back!
My therapist saw how excited I was about the picture and had me bring it with me every time. My Mom framed it for me, so my physical therapist would sit it near me and tell me to look at the picture, at Wil, while I went through the painful therapies and exercises. He would tell me that doctors didn’t know everything and that I would walk again. That I would be able to walk up to Wil one day and meet him.
I did walk again. I suffered another set back 2 years later when both hips and a knee locked up on me, and my physical therapist used the same motivation. He had me continue to bring that picture to all of my sessions. In retrospect I feel a little bad for the nurses who had to hear me gush (as only a teen aged girl with a huge crush can do) about Wil Wheaton three times a week for an hour and a half each time. Once again though, the motivation worked and I walked again.
So since 1987 I have had one long held, teenaged crush borne dream:to meet Wil Wheaton. Last year, at MegaCon in Orlando it finally happened.
My husband and I had been bandying about the idea to take the kids to MegaCon. When I looked up the guests who would be there and saw Wil was going as part of the Star Trek:TNG 25th anniversary (along with the rest of the cast) I practically begged my husband. We had to go, I had to meet Wil. My husband,being the wonderful man he is, knew how much it meant to me, and we took the kids to their first con. I took my kids to his panel discussion, and they were good, if somewhat restless as they sat and listened to a man they didn’t know tell jokes they didn’t get. But they knew that for some reason this was very important to Mom. My family joined me in line for Wil and we waited.
I knew going into this that I would be far to emotional to say what I needed to say to him. Before we left home I had written a letter for him detailing some of what is above. How in a very real way he helped through a painful time and gave me a goal to shoot for. And here I was, finally able to accomplish that goal. He did something I never expected.
As he read my letter (which had to seem really weird to him probably) his jaw dropped and he teared up. He then got up and walked over to the side of his table away from me. He then turned and opened up his arms. He had me walk over to meet him, so I could finally accomplish the goal. He enveloped me in a huge hug and we both cried.
In looking back I realize I turned into a babbling idiot in this moment. I wanted to tell him how big a fan I was. How even when he wasn’t acting or in the public eye, I had always been a fan. How much his YouTube show Tabletop had inspired my husband and I and now we had weekly gaming nights with friends and family. But all I could say over and over was “You have no idea how much this means to me.” I feel like going back and slapping myself silly. Of course he knows what it means to you, stupid! You just told him in that letter!
He even took time, as he signed the picture I had picked out, to talk to my kids. My kids (10 and 8 at the time) had no idea who this guy was, or why Mom was crying, were a little spooked. He told that I was awesome, and that he knew they didn’t get it because I was their Mom, but I really was. He gave me my new signed picture which said to “Keep walking.” It’s on my desk.
MegaCon 2014 is in 2 weeks and I will be there, as will Mr. Wheaton. My husband had already resigned himself to knowing that I’m going to Wil’s table again. This time I have a book of his I want him to sign. Hopefully this time I will get a chance to say all the things I was too emotional to say last time. I also want to tell him how much his book Just a Geek inspired me to stop being afraid and start believing in my own talent as a writer.
Here’s to continuing to make dreams come true.
P.S. Wil wrote about meeting me in his own blog here.