Happy birthday to the world’s newest teenager!
I’ve thought about what I would say today for some time. Upbeat? Somber? Melancholy? Angry? Relieved?
Any of those emotions would be fitting.
But as the day got closer one word continued to come to mind: Blessed.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted.” That word “Blessed” could just as easily (and rightly) be translated, “Happy.” God’s kind comfort of my son, my family, and me is the source of genuine happiness and blessing.
Today Harrison turns thirteen. Thirteen. Never imagined my youngest child being a teenager. But it happened.
Harrison’s third birthday with cancer. And, hopefully, his last.
Of course, we are relieved to be here. Too many times over the past three years Harrison has knocked on heaven’s door. He failed induction therapy (only 2% of all leukemia patients fail to achieve remission), he had a stroke, got the flu, had a deadly fungal infection, suffered several other potentially deadly infections of unknown origin, and survived two blood clots in his brain thanks to an experimental frozen plasma infusion.
He should never have made it this far with all he’s endured.
But he’s still here. He’s still fighting, still enjoying the blessed life.
Tonight he’ll be treated to his “traditional” birthday meal: his favorite Japanese steakhouse. He’s been talking about it for weeks. He was there five days before being diagnosed with cancer. He said, “We have to go there every year as a reminder that cancer didn’t win.”
Birthdays mean different things to different people. To a child with cancer they mean one thing: I survived another year!
Happy birthday, Harrison.