Wil Wheaton seems to take a great pleasure in meeting his fans at conventions, but this fan actually moved him to tears.
If you've ever waited in line to meet an actor/writer/artist/whatever at a convention, then you know what a mixed bag that can be. Sometimes you meet your hero and they're incredibly cool and listen to what you have to say, other times they just sign what you've got, take your money, and have you whisked away. Wil Wheaton falls very much into the former category, thankfully, and will, on occassion, recount tales of memorable meetings with fans. This story is, we think, his best to date.
On Saturday, a young woman walked up to my table with her husband and her two children. She handed me a typed letter and told me that she knew she wouldn’t be able to get through what she wanted to say to me, and would I please read it.
I unfolded it, and read her story. When she was a young girl, she had a serious complication due to her Lupus, and her doctors told her that she would never walk again. She had a photo of me, though, that she took with her to physical therapy every day, and the therapists would hold it up for her and encourage her to walk toward it — toward me — while she recovered. She made a promise to herself, she said, that she would walk again some day, and if I was ever in her town, she would walk up to meet me. At the end of her letter, she thanked me for being there, so she could *walk* to meet me.
I looked up at her through tears, and she looked back at me through her own. I stood up, walked around my table, and put about fifteen feet between us. I held my arms open, and asked her to walk over to me. She began to cry, and slowly, confidently closed the distance between us. I embraced her, and we stood there for a minute, surrounded by thousands of people who had no idea what was going on, and cried together.
“I’m so proud of you,” I said, quietly, “and I am so honored.”
We wiped the tears away, and I sat back down to sign a photo for her. I looked at her young children. “Your mom is remarkable,” I said, “and I know you don’t get it, because she’s, like your mom? But you have to trust me: she is.”
The kids nodded, and I could tell that they were a little freaked out by the emotion of the thing, even if they didn’t understand it. They looked at their father, who said, “Mommy’s okay. Mommy’s okay.” That made me tear up again. Mommy was okay, and she is a remarkable woman who defied the odds and her doctors, and *walked* up to meet me. I’m still overwhelmed when I think about what that means, and how I was part of it.
If you've ever had an autoimmune disorder or any kind of long-term illness, then you know the importance of having something or someone to motivate you to work on getting better and accept that some days are just going to be harder than others. It's profoundly gratifying to know that this woman was able to come so far and even more wonderful to see Wil Wheaton share in her triumph.