I’ve decided to start this blog to share my experiences as a professional mermaid. The idea is that I’ll be able to share tips and tricks for others, entertain with stories, but also have a little corner of the internet of my own where I can express my own thoughts, opinions, and memories.
I’ve decided to make my first blog post about Miss K. Miss K is a special family friend who has grown quite close with me and my team of mermaids. Her journey has been a difficult one but we do our best to fill it with love and laughter.
This is the first time I met Miss K. (Named so for privacy, though images etc are shared with parental permission). It was a special summer event in 2014 and she and her family had recently moved home to Halifax. Miss K had previously lived with her family in Costa Rica. But ever since her birth she’d been dealing with a slew of intense health problems. It soon became quite clear that in order to get the best care possible she needed to come home and go to the IWK children’s hospital. (We do a lot of volunteering and donation for this hospital). Once Miss K arrived treatment began and she would be in and out of the hospital for the rest of her life to the present.
My business partner and life partner Sean works with Miss K’s dad, also named Sean. (Miss K has decided that my Sean can’t keep his name because it’s too confusing. She has named him Skye) After meeting Miss K at the festival I wanted to see her more, but every time I tried to get together she was sick. Miss K has a real love of mermaids, so on holidays we would send her mermaid gifts (and pokemon gifts for her brother) but we’d never get to see her open them because she’d be unwell. Her dad would phone and express thanks and tell us all about how she was doing and loved the gifts.
When our company won the ADP Small Business Grant contest, we threw a big party at a local hotel pool. Miss K was well enough to attend and she loved the pool. She borrowed one of my children’s monofins and hit the water like no other child I’ve ever seen. She was entertaining everyone and had them all laughing with her splashing. Only 4 years old but charming the crowd. I decided at the end of the event to gift Miss K with the monofin she loved so much, which made her dad cry. It was a special moment.
This summer I heard in July that Miss K was very seriously ill and would need several surgeries. Her family was taking turns living in the children’s hospital with her. She’d become so depressed that she wouldn’t speak anymore and was very sad all the time. I had illnesses as a child and when I was her age I’d been in and out of the hospital a few times too. It really struck a chord with me and I worried for her well-being. In my company I strongly believe that children can become healthy through play. Play is being studied by developmental scientists around the world and we now know that allowing children to play, encouraging play, and learning through play creates resiliency in children along with setting them up for later life success. I really believed if I could just go play with Miss K for a while she might feel better.
So, I took my new “dry” mermaid tail created for me by Merbella Studios for my birthday (I’ve dubbed it: Baby Splash) and wiggled into it in the back seat of our car in the hospital parking lot. Then we took a wheel chair we’d borrowed from my good friend Mermaid Mimi and tucked a blanket around my tail and Sean pushed me in. I had with me a special knitted mermaid made by a woman who’d seen Miss K at the festival in 2014. I also brought her a children’s fabric tail that we’d commissioned a local seamstress to make for us that would fit the monofin she had at home.
I got many looks as Sean wheeled me down the hallways looking for Miss K’s room. As he slowly wheeled me into her room she looked up from the hospital bed where she was resting. One of her eyes was closed; she looked pale, weak, and sleepy. She was wearing a hospital gown. Her eye looked at me for a moment and she said a little confused, “Raina?” within seconds she’d realized I was really there and she sat up with the biggest smile, “Raina!” I was wheeled in and gave her a big hug and presented her with the gifts. She instantly wanted to wear the mermaid tail.
I sat and visited with her for two hours. We chatted, watched TV, played with her toys, and then we went for a walk around. The doctors had been trying hard to encourage her to walk along with drink water. Since she had Raina there to show off she was happy to walk… so long as she could wear her tail. I even got her to take a few sips of water because mermaids need to stay hydrated! She showed me all there was to see at the hospital. It was a great visit.
When I got home I started thinking about how hard it is for kids when they’re in the hospital. You’re in a strange place with other strangers around, strange smells, strange noises… you might have invasive and scary procedures or tests done, and you feel lonely. You want to play but nothing is familiar and maybe you don’t have your favourite toys. I got to thinking… and I decided that Miss K needed a little hope and entertainment. I reached out to my mermaid friends all over the world and asked them to please send me letters, cards, and small gifts to give Miss K. That way, whenever she was sick and sad she’d have special items she could dig out to keep her entertained and feel happy.
The items started pouring in as everyone wanted to be involved in this special project. I’d go to the mail box and come back with tears and arm loads of packages. It was overwhelming the amount of support. It wasn’t a moment too soon either- as Miss K was scheduled for another surgery. She’d been hoping to go home, but instead had to stay. She was sadder than ever!
Quick as a wink I was back in my tail and in the wheelchair visiting Miss K once more. This time I brought her a few of the gifts that had arrived in the mail. As always she was happy to see me and I got right up on the hospital bed with her- tail and all- to help open the presents. After that we watched a little TV together, cuddled, and went for a wheelchair ride around the hospital with mom holding the IV and dad pushing the wheelchair.
After our visit over the next few weeks I collected package after package; eagerly awaiting word from Miss K’s parent s that she might be up for another visit. One day we got the call, Miss K wanted to invite us to a BBQ! I had Mermaid Iona- a friend from Seattle- visiting at the time. Iona, Sean, and his dad/our business mentor Terry and his wife Dianne would all be attending the BBQ where Miss K’s family would also be. They lived right on the ocean.
Miss K has a little brother and I realized he might feel bad if I brought her a dozen packages and nothing for him. I knew he liked Pokemon so I went out and bought him several packs of cards along with a stuffed animal Pikachu plush. We headed over in our car and Iona and I hit below the seats while Sean went about distracting the kids so we could get down to the beach without being seen.
They had a beautiful dock and Iona and I wiggled into our tails and into the warm sea. We heard the rumblings of children running down the hill so we swam out from our hiding place and met Miss K and her brother on the beach. Sean had given her brother our gift and he loved it. Miss K was wearing a mermaid dress and carefully tiptoed ankle deep as to not get it went. Then she hopped on my back for a photo. We swam over to the dock again where she set to work opening her gifts.
We have a 30 minutes video of the gift opening that I haven’t had time to get online yet (the upload caps) but the emotion being felt in the video certainly comes across. I was so warmed by the kindness of our mermaid community. I couldn’t believe the thought that went into all the gifts and I certainly thank everyone who helped make it happen. There wasn’t a dry eye!
After the gifts we told Miss K that we’d use mermaid magic to have legs for a little bit. I warned her I was bad with feet and I might need her help. Once she was out of sight Iona and I got some photos together and then de-tailed and headed up to the cute little home on the hill. We got clean and warm and then Miss K insisted on holding my hand to walk up the stairs and show me her very pink and princess/mermaid filled bedroom. She even had a music box that played “Part of Your World” and we sang along.
We visited for a while and then all ate dinner together. Then it was time for fireworks! We went back to the beach and Miss K sat on my lap. She held my hand and Iona’s while we watched. When the last firework went up I said, “Look! It’s like a shooting star. You better make a wish!” Miss K thought for a moment and then said,
“I wish Raina and her friend didn’t have to go.” Cue the waterworks. After many hugs and kisses we were on our way.
Miss K continues to heal and improve every day. Though she has lost hearing in one of her ears, she was able to finally swim in her mermaid tail. I am looking forward to entertaining at her birthday party in September. She’s my special little friend. I always think about how we never know just how much what we do for others will affect them or help them. I hope this story inspires you to go out and do something kind for someone else… today!
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