Yesterday Harrison turned eleven years old. In most years, for most people, an eleventh birthday is just another birthday. Of course, for people my age, a birthday is just another day.
But not for Harrison.
Yesterday was a birthday that not so long ago we never thought we would see.
Countless times on Harrison’s journey death has seemed inevitable. When he didn’t respond to the initial, tried and true, standard treatment. When he had a stroke. When he was admitted for breathing troubles and the fear of a pulmonary embolism. When he contracted an unknown infection. When he contracted a deadly, fungal infection. When he contracted the flu.
It is a miracle that Harrison made it to eleven. And we are grateful to our Lord, to Harrison’s providers, and to those in the childhood community who have gone before us who made it possible. And we are grateful for Gleevec.
After a weekend hospitalization for the flu, Harrison was so glad to be home by his birthday. He stayed home from school because of so many sick kids. But went to dinner to celebrate.
This birthday was so different than his tenth birthday. That night we went to one of his favorite places to eat. But he didn’t eat anything. He rested on my arm the entire night. He felt terrible, but couldn’t say where (or why). Four days later we discovered that at the very moment we were celebrating ten years of living, cancer was ravaging his body in an effort to end that short life.
Yesterday was a day of great emotion for me. I was thankful beyond words to God for my son’s life. But I also grieved for those parents we have meet who have to face birthdays, Christmases, and other special days without their child. In my prayers I gave thanks to God. And I prayed for these moms, dads, and siblings.