When Harrison was in the hospital following his diagnosis with leukemia, the nurses were wonderful with him. They were kind, caring, involved, and interested. I am sure they are trained to help kids (and maybe parents, too) think long-term: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Harrison timidly answered, “A pro football or baseball player.”
My heart broke.
“When he grows up? You just said he had cancer!”
All I could think of at the time was the crushing of Harrison’s dreams. That he would never grow up, much less grow up to be a professional athlete. Then, when the doc said he would not be allowed to play football for three years, Harrison cried. He didn’t worry about what he would be as an adult, but what he would be as a kid.
I told him not to worry, that he’d be off-treatment (more leukemia parlance) by the time he was in eighth grade (are you KIDDING ME!!) and could play JV football at school. His response opened my eyes to where his mind was. He said, “But I can’t play football with my friends at school.”
He wasn’t thinking about pro ball, high school ball, or even middle school ball. In fact, he wasn’t thinking about football at all, really. He was concerned with playing with friends.
A lot has happened since that first weekend. Some good, most bad. But in the midst of it all I’ve begun to see life more like Harrison. What will life be like in three years? Who cares, when there is NOW to enjoy. Rather than making plans for what Harrison may or may not be when he grows up, I want to make plans for him to be with friends and family now. Carpe diem!
Jim Elliot, the missionary who was martyred by those he cared for, is known for saying, “Wherever you are, be all there.” Harrison lives like that. Whether it’s not wanting to take his medicine despite not being well, or wanting to play with friends without a thought towards the future, or caring more about football at recess than playing in the Super Bowl, he’s a young boy who is “all there” wherever he is.
Harrison has always been a kid with whom the force is quite strong. He’s a blessing, a delight, a charm (and a charmer). In other words, he’s like his mother. And he’s teaching me to be that way as well.
With my family, my work, my hobbies, and my care-taking of Harrison, I want to be “all there.” Carpe diem!
Thanks for the example, Harrison. You’re my hero!