I woke up today, as my mother would say, "on the wrong side of the bed". Everything went downhill from there. By dinnertime, I was having a good little pity party, including the requisite meltdown. Then, something happened that changed everything.
I got an email from a high school friend, Erin, asking for help. Erin is a few years older, so I only went to school with her for a year but her sister Alison and I were in the same graduating class and were in band together all four years. Erin and Alison have been working for several weeks to finalize a Web site for a foundation – The Brendon Scott Coates Foundation – that was set up to help families of children who are fighting cancer. I eagerly agreed to do some proofreading of the site this evening.
Brendon's story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. In 2006, he was diagnosed with Ependymoma, an aggressive, fast-growing brain tumor when he was 3 years old. For over two years, Brendon was treated with chemotherapy, radiation and even experimental treatments until it was clear that nothing more could be done to stop the progression of his cancer. A year ago, on September 10, 2008, Brendon passed away.
I never met Brendon, but my life has been touched by him. He endured so much in his short life, but remained positive and upbeat, even looking forward to attending kindergarten classes just before he passed away. When I try to find words to tell Alison how very sorry I am for her loss, none suffice. I grieve for Alison's and her family’s loss and I admire her courage to keep Brendon alive through this foundation because I know it can’t be easy.
As I read the details of Brendon’s diagnosis, treatment and the progression of the cancer, I cried for the pain he suffered and the time he lost to being in hospitals when he should have been outside playing, being a kid.
As I read, I realized that none of the concerns of my day even mattered. I let a lot of inconsequential nonsense – that will eventually work itself out – turn me into a whiney crybaby.
As I read, all of the worries and cares of the day receded and I felt peace mixed with the sadness. I am blessed, but I forgot that for a minute. We all have problems that require our attention from time to time in varying degrees, but how we react to them shows our true measure.
I’m going to hug my little boy, Brandon, a little bit tighter now and be thankful for the good health and happiness he enjoys each and every day. And when things start to get me down, I’ll think about Brendon’s spirit and perhaps I’ll finally learn to "pick my battles" wisely rather than turning everything into a battle.
Now, go hug someone you love and remember how blessed you are to have them in your life.