A gentle reminder to never take time on this earth for granted…
I am sorry for a family I have never met, and for a child never personally known to me. Their story is one written every day, in every hospital, in every corner of the world. It is tale no one should ever have to read about, to share, or to experience. But the reality is sharp when it draws rich, red, emotional, uncaring blood. Forcing it to drain freely from within, before eventually pooling around our own naivety and ignorance. I pause often while typing this blog to constantly wipe away the tears from streaming down two pale cheeks onto my keys.
Another heartbroken family representing so many others who can share the exact same story. This time, it was their turn to do so. Heartbroken because I have lived the same painful journey and know exactly how it impacts your soul forever. You are never the same person again. One day you blow freely in the winds of optimism, yet on another, you become familiar with the coldness of the ceramic tiles on the floor of a bathroom. When you have a child stricken by cancer, there is nothing in the world comparable to it.
I saw the announcement on one of my social media pages. I read the details and shook my head back and forth in fruitless sadness. After gaining my composure slightly, I typed my own reply to the family “there are no words”. It all bothered me for a number of reasons. The news was not entirely a surprise, as the story of this young child was one of which I had been following via a friend and his efforts to raise awareness and some emotional support for this courageous family of three. Unfortunately, his brave ordeal ended at noon on May 2. Such a brief amount of time to enjoy this magnificent world. All taken away due to cancer. So very sad.
His brief life campaign inspired a lot of people in and around Boston. His journey through critical illness became more and more viscerally connecting to everyone who followed his daily battle during this pandemic. A little boy fought and fought and fought to have another birthday, another holiday…another chance. To no avail. For many, yesterday was their last. Today, we enjoy the wonder of another 24 opportunities to shine and make a difference.
Two parents remained alongside their brave little soldier for every second of his campaign. Every diagnosis, every treatment, and for every horrible conversation. Only to subscribe to an eventual realization that circumstance had other plans for their family all along. They offered us a view from a 12 x 12-foot hospital room every day of this saga. While the rest of the world sat at home impatiently complaining about toilet paper, social distancing, and when they may be allowed to play golf again.
Unfortunately, Cancer doesn’t give a shit about what any of us want, it is uncaring like so many other diseases which take young lives. For a fifty-three-year-old guy, I have lived my life fully. Any of us would gladly trade some of our years in return for allowing a sick child to have the most precious gift. One of longer existence and the ability to etch countless forever memories upon the souls of self and loved ones. It isn’t fair. It never is.
Elias was every child in the hospital and at the same time the most precious child in the place. Simply ask his mom and dad. If you could line all of the children up, you would see an entire row of fateful fragile warriors all armed for battle. The most incredible team ever assembled. They stand tall each and every day, ready to fight a reality which is far greater than most people ever want to admit. A battle which many of them lose. For most of us, it is far too unthinkable to even consider. Better to bury ones’ head deep in the sand and pretend. It’s just that bad. We all practice it, there is no shame in doing so. I had done the same too until it struck our son.
The hell cycle repeats itself over and over and over again. One after the other, innocent children are deprived of something we all take for granted. Not for anything they have done in their fleeting time here on earth to deserve such a shortcoming. But only to have been born with the mutated genes of random and unfairness. We can all try to justify it by any means we see fit. Always a meek effort, however, to make ourselves slowly chew on a slice of reason toward the true painful reality. Sometimes children die.
None of it is their fault, yet they still deal with it courageously each and every time. Walk the halls of a cancer wing with me, and I’ll show you the true meaning of life. It isn’t about what you have accomplished, it’s about what you’ve been dealt with in your life. It’s about how you seek to inspire others with your own personal journey because you are still fortunate to be able to do so.
Walk with me and witness the faces of triumph and bravery as they share their incredible stories with you. To the children, their victories are nothing special. Simply another day in the all too familiar environment of needles, machines, and procedures. For many of them, this way of life is all they have ever known. Every day is a new struggle and every lived day is a new success. It is just the way it is up there. See the eyes of the parents to a cancer kid, they will tell you the entire story in seconds.
Today certainly doesn’t make any sense to me at all. Perhaps one day it will. I have reckoned with these thoughts for a dozen years now, still waiting for some sort of answer to my questions. I ask knowing there are none, as I still become equally impacted by these kids each and every time. My life has been dedicated now to sharing their voices, in some small way.
Is it possible, when God lacks faith in his creation, he surrounds himself with children? I will convince myself one day this the real reason they are taken from us too soon.
For Elias, I want to believe it was his time to go back home because God needed a little bit of extra special inspiration right now.
Maybe some of us never truly have children. We simply borrow angels.
Rest well sweet soul, rest well.