I had the privilege of knowing a young and courageous family with whom I will always feel a tremendous amount of respect. Each member of this family touched my heart greatly.
I met them when their son entered first grade in my class. A few months before, they had lost a baby girl. She went to the hospital with what appeared to be a cold, made progress, and on the day she was to come home, she died.
Not long into the year, Daniel’s mom was diagnosed with cancer. She was going through the ill affects of radiation and spending more and more time in bed. One day Daniel came home from school and sat on her bed. “Mom,” he said, “You have cancer, right? Did you know that you can die from that?” “Yes,” she responded softly. Daniel buried himself in his mother’s arms. He cried quietly, not wanting to upset her. After awhile, his mom resumed the conversation. “Daniel, you know there are lots of ways to die, most of them unexpectedly. After all, no one knows when they cross the street if they will make it across safely, but that is life. We just don’t know what life has in store for us.”
Daniel took her words quite literally. “Mom, I was going to go to the park to play today, but you are right. It’s dangerous out there. I’m not going anywhere.”
Daniel sat on the bed. His mom said nothing. They sat in silence for a long time. Boredom and restlessness appeared on Daniel’s face. “Mom,” he said, “this is no fun.” “You are right, Daniel. You know, we have a choice here. We can live life and take our chances or we can just sit and wait to die.” “Let’s live life, Mom,” Daniel responded. “I’ll take my chances at the park and you read your book. See you later.”