To those who know Nikolas, they would say he is a kind, sweet, and loving child, whose gentle soul can make your heart whole and who has a smile that can light up the room.
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“He’s a very special and unique little boy,” said Nikolas’ mom, Jessica. “Each day we have with him is such a blessing.”
Jessica speaks in days because Nikolas’ future is a day-by-day struggle. Nikolas, 6, was born with multiple rare birth defects, so much so that he has undergone 10 surgeries in his short life. But through it all, he remains positive and upbeat, a feat that amazes everyone who meets him.
They were particularly amazed by his wish request. He wished to meet the Pope, Pope Francis.
“We aren’t super religious or go to mass every Sunday,” said Jessica. “But a few years ago, Nikolas had a surgery that lasted more than five hours, a lot longer than expected. I am not sure why or what happened during this surgery, but since then, Nikolas started to talk about angels and that he was talking to them and they were telling him good things."
“I cannot explain it, but since that surgery I truly believe my son can see and understand things that may not be visible to us," continued Jessica. “I know in my heart Nikolas is looked after by them.”
In fact, Nikolas said it was his angels who encouraged him to pick his wish.
“The angels sent [the Pope] and said he is a good man," said Nikolas. “So I said he’s my favorite guy to meet.”
Nikolas had his wish come true this month when he, his mother, his father, his grandmothers, his aunt and his uncle flew to Italy for a meeting with Pope Francis. Make-A-Wish Italy served as the family’s guide and took them to the Vatican on the second day of their trip.
“It was incredible to be there, to be asked into the Pope’s private meeting space,” said Jessica. “We were in awe. Nikolas was actually a little anxious – asking me ‘what do I say to him,’ “what do I do’? and then to see the Pope come into the room…”
Nikolas too was a little overwhelmed by the room and meeting the Pope.
“He was so nice. He did a blessing and touched my face and gave me a hug and a kiss,” said Nikolas. “Afterwards, I was waiting for my angels and they were happy. They were calm and quiet.”
Jessica too was moved by the experience. She also received a hug and kiss from the Pope, which was a comfort.
“I can’t describe it, there are no words to describe it,” she said. “When it came to Nikolas’ turn, it was like everything was in slow motion. I know he probably was only with us for about 10 minutes but the way he held Nikolas, the way [the Pope] looked at him, it was beautiful.”
If Pope Francis did say anything to Jessica or Nikolas besides the blessing, they can’t remember.
“I was just in the moment,” said Jessica.
Nikolas continues, “He was real. Right there, the angels were with me that day and I know they were happy.”
Nikolas and his family were also happy with the experience.
“I feel at peace going into the future now, knowing Nikolas has had this experience,” said Jessica. And it wasn’t just the blessing that made this experience special for the family. Nikolas and his family were also able to see the sights of Rome, including his favorite, the Trevi Fountain – which happened to be close to the largest McDonald’s Nikolas had ever seen.
“We would stand there every day and watch everyone throw in their coins to make wishes. And Nikolas would have to throw in a coin every day too and then he would ask to go to McDonalds,” she said with a laugh.
And what did Nikolas, with his ever present angels nearby, wish for?
“I wished for lots of candy and lots of teeth,” says the 6-year-old who recently lost his front bottom teeth. “I already met the Pope.”