“I hope everyone reading this is having a really good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that.” – Gillian Anderson
I’ve been blessed to meet quite a few people like this in my life. The youngest was still in diapers, recently burned and living in El Salvador.
The oldest was a 104-year-old nun in a retirement community in St. Louis.
The most remarkable, though, was a seven-year-old boy in the oncology unit of a children’s hospital. I was a hospital chaplain at the time and the experiences with these little ones, their incredible families and the staff absolutely altered my life — especially Kevin.
Before visiting Kevin, I spoke to his parents. They told stories of his fight with cancer, his remarkable courage and his strong faith. They told me he was who they wanted to be when they got older. Preparing to leave the waiting area and visit the child, the mother gently said, “John, please don’t talk about how sick he is. Kevin doesn’t know he is dying.”
I left the family, walked down the hallway and entered his room.
Kevin was sitting up in a chair, wearing a hospital gown and had an IV snaked up his arm. He got out of his chair and shuffled over to meet me. With a big grin he introduced himself and asked me who I was. I told him and we started to visit. We talked about sports, camping, biking, fire, my hands, his sister and our favorite flavors of ice cream.
And we talked about cancer. It was an intense conversation, but somehow also full of laughter, peace and joy.
Near the end of the visit, we prayed together and I asked if there was anything I could do for him. He thought for a moment and said there was only one thing. Kevin looked at me, his eyes lit up, his smile still caked on his face, and he said, “Mr. John, you gotta promise that what we talked about today you’ll keep between us. My mom and dad don’t know it, but I am dying.”
No one had told him. No one had to. He just knew it. And he was spending every moment, every visit, every experience really living.
My friend, why wait for the diagnosis to live differently? Why wait for the fires of life to change how you are living?
Today, I challenge you to choose to wake up to the possibility of your life. [Tweet this.] Celebrate the good, passionately live your life today — because the opportunity to do so is an absolute gift. By thinking, speaking, acting and living this gift, your life and the lives of those lucky enough to know you will change.
Isn’t it time to wake up to that gift?
So, who is your Kevin? Who is someone that taught you what really living looks like? Share your answer and your favorite charity in the comments below and I will donate $10 in honor of your Kevin.