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Stopped in my tracks by a boy’s dying wish

“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.” [Tweet this]

Dalai Lama

Think of all the times you’ve wished for something to happen: Staring at a birthday cake. Seated on Santa’s lap. Waiting for the phone to ring.

How many of those wishes actually become reality? 

Well, what if someone could actually grant you that wish? Not in theory or just for pretend, but in reality. What would you wish for? 

I considered that question after speaking at a conference.  A pediatric oncologist approached, gave me a big hug and shared the impact of the presentation on her. She’d forgotten how profoundly important her work was for the patients she serves. Apparently my keynote reminded her that the work mattered and just how much she loved the people she served. I asked her to share her favorite experience from work. 

She hesitated… and became visibly emotional. Then shared about a little patient of hers, an 8-year-old boy.  She’d gotten to know the boy and his entire family well over the months of his battle with cancer. It was a battle he’d bravely fought. It was also one he no longer was capable of continuing.

Learning from this 8-year-old

There was a special day when a representative of Make-A-Wish came into his room.  These are the beautiful people who make a sick child’s dream come true.  From going to Disney World to meeting a professional athlete to riding in a fire truck – whatever the child’s wish becomes reality. 

The representative explained that whatever your wish, we will work to grant it. She asked if he understood. He did. 

So she asked, “What do you wish for?”

He looked around the room, over at his parents, then back to the woman. He called her closer and whispered so only she could hear: “My parents don’t know how sick I am. They don’t know I am dying.”

He looked away from the Make-A-Wish representative, over at his parents to make sure they weren’t listening, before continuing. “My wish is for them to be at peace when I am gone.”

As the physician stood before me sharing this story and with a growing line of people gathering to have their books signed, I lost it.

Under the greatest adversity exists the greatest potential

Here’s this little boy, just eight.  He’s sick and dying of a terrible disease. He’s able to meet anybody, take any trip, receive any toy, do anything. And what’s his wish? He wants to bring peace to his parents once he’s gone. 

My friends, so often we wish for our circumstances, our relationships, our lives to get better for us.  But how might all of the above improve if our wishes, goals and actions were focused towards making things better for others? [Tweet this]

This is what life is really about. It provides meaning in our living. And even peace in our dying. 

This is your day. Live Inspired.

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