A different kind of birthday
This blog is about a birthday, but it’s not a happy one. It’s a story about family and counting your blessings. If this doesn’t help you open your eyes and make you realize how lucky we all are, than I don’t know what will.
Today I went to work. There’s nothing spectacular or unusual about that. For the first half of my day, it was business as usual. Only then, did my day take an unusual twist. And to think, it all started with a couple of birthday balloons.
I was standing near the registers when a lady asked me if I could blow up a few birthday balloons. Since there was no customers near the checkout area, I wandered over to give her some help. I could tell that she was rather indecisive about which balloons to get. As is often the case, I asked her for some information about who the balloons were for.
“So what are you thinking? Is it a for a boy, a girl, a man or woman?” She then informed me that they were for a boy, her son. Again, nothing unusual about that. What she said next definitely caught me by surprise.
“I’m bringing them to the cemetery. They’re for my son who passed away 20 years ago, he would have turned 35 today.”
If you could think of an appropriate response, I’ll give you all the credit in the world. I went from being jovial, to sincerely sympathetic. Even though she wasn’t the first person to tell me something similar to this, it still doesn’t make it easier for me to hear. Normally I tell them that I’m sorry for their loss, but for whatever reason, I decided to ask her what happened.
It turns out that her son died of complications of leukemia, which started when he was just a young teenager. She told me how he went through chemo and eventually the cancer went into remission. She called that their first miracle. Eventually the cancer came back and required a bone-marrow transplant. Thankfully two of her son’s brothers happened to be perfect matches. The transplant was successful, and was their second miracle.
But ultimately the cancer came back again, which led to another round of chemo. With a weakened immune system, he caught a fever and died shortly thereafter. At the age of 15, her son was gone.
Her story left me speechless then, much like it does now. Despite it all, she told me how thankful she was for getting to spend as much time with him as she had. As she put it, none of us know how much time we have left on this Earth. After ringing her up, she got choked up and began to cry. I gave her a hug and thanked her for sharing her story with me.
Each day is a blessing, as are the moments we spend with those we love. Life is not something that should be taken for granted. We all should take a moment to realize just how lucky we all are. Perhaps then we can realize that all the things we spend time worrying about, they’re not so important after all.
So wherever you are, I just want to wish you a happy birthday, Dave. Know that your mother hasn’t stopped loving you and I don’t think she ever will.