Well, I have had a pretty rotten day which means I need to take few steps back and get a bit of perspective, remember what's really important, and doing so has inspired a bit of personal introspection. Ready or not, here it comes.
A bit more than thirty years ago I was simultaneously part of something horrible and something wonderful.
Shortly before my fourth birthday, I was diagnosed with a rare presentation of a cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma (say that three times fast if you dare). That -- along with the subsequent radiation and chemotherapy -- was the horrible part.
|My brush with celebrity at the ribbon cutting in 1980.|
A little more than a year later, I stood on the porch of a big, friendly house -- the house that love built I do believe they call it -- while the mayor cut a ribbon to dedicate the city's first Ronald McDonald House, a place for parents from out of town to stay while their children were being treated at local hospitals. There was a big, sunny turret in one of the bedrooms, a player piano in the dining room, video games in the living room, and a huge tree mural painted on the basement wall where a bunch of us kids made handprints for leaves.
My parents -- especially my mother -- were a big part of making RMH a reality. They were a big part of a lot of people's lives during a very difficult time. A vital part in the face of a lot of sickness and sadness.
I remember being sick. I remember being stuck with enormous needles. (I remember having to be strapped to a board with sheets of velcro so that I could be stuck with enormous needles.) I remember radiation treatments. I remember carrying around a peanut butter pail because of the nausea that went with treatment. I remember enormous vile tasting pills. I remember the horrible smell of the hospital parking lot elevator. I remember my mother attending multiple funerals in a single week.
I also remember a nurse named Sandy with the most fantastic long red hair. I remember a doctor so tall he had to stand me up on the table and still bend over. I remember another doctor introducing me to her lab rats. I remember IV pole races in the halls. I remember arguing with my mother about eating "funny" brownies. I remember a Halloween party with another patient's mother dressed in a shiny green spandex frog costume with the frog mask tucked under her arm as she spoke to a scared new parent.
Somehow in the face of so much illness and even despair, there was at least as much love and courage and support. Too often the illness prevailed, but even so, hope remained.
Heroes bring hope, and I believe that more often than not, heroes are the people of quiet strength whom you meet every day. People who, no matter what hardship, trouble or difficulty they are facing in their own lives still have enough hope and strength to share with others. People who offer the support and encouragement to help make the dreams of others -- even complete strangers -- come true.
That strength and encouragement is what builds houses of love, and hope is what should remind you that no matter how bad it seems in the momnet, the day, the week or even the year, it is still possible to do something different, somthing else, something better, something more. Even if it is only a small step forward, don't let the fear that there might not be a step after that stop you. Take the step anyway. Take the chance and see what happens.