As many know, you often survive just one day at a time. The following event might sound very strange, and I apologize for that. It's probably something you must experience to appreciate.
This time last year things seemed especially grim. It appeared every child we knew was doing poorly. Several friends had passed away. Tyler was experiencing very severe side effects, and the doctors talked to us about scaling back his treatments. They did not know if this would effect his outcome-- there was simply no other option. This was immediately followed by word that our friend Brett Workman, the first person we meet with Burkitt's, had just passed away in his mother's arms.
I have always believed I could win any battle. But for the first time, I was facing something I could not fix on my own. A father's greatest responsibility is to protect his family, but in this greatest time of need, I was falling short. So much was out of my control.
A series of problems arose at the office, so Kathy came to sit with Tyler to let me run home. Walking out, I was overwhelmed by the complications with doctors, complications with treatments, complications with insurance, complications with finances, and complications with my business. I could physically feel myself starting to lose it all. As I stepped outside to the parking garage, I was hit by the bitter cold. I was only in jeans and a tee shirt, but I just stood there in the cold, trying to hold it together. I knew I was very close to going over the edge.
In the parking garage I searched all five floors, but could not find my car. Then, standing in the cold, I remembered I didn't even have a parking token or any money to get out of the garage. I had lost my wallet in the hospital a few days earlier. I know it sounds weird, but standing in that freezing garage, I have never felt so helpless in my entire life. With everything we were dealing with, this stupid little parking token was the thing that took me over the edge. My brain was no longer functioning.
I actually had a split second thought about going back inside the hospital, tackling the security guy, taking his gun, and shooting up the parking token machine. I would then pass out the tokens to the other families and be hailed as a Robin Hood (I told you I was losing it.)
I walked to the stairway to try a different floor. There was a guy standing at the stairway, and he handed me something as I past him. I just shoved it on my pocket and kept going. Half a flight down I just stopped. I felt like a caged animal that had been beaten and finally been broken. I could not go any further. Then I looked at what the guy in the stairway had given me. It was a parking token. I just stared at it, completely confused. I walked back up to see who he was, but he was gone. I walked out to the garage, but nobody was there. I walked up the ramp, but no one was in sight. Then, as I turned around, I saw my car. It was right in front of me at the top of the ramp.
As I pulled out of the parking garage, I could physically feel my world changing. I began to believe again. I began to get my strength back. I still remember the very weird sensation as I dropped the token in the slot to get out of the garage. I believed again that we would win this fight.
I know it sounds weird. How can something that small change anything? The problems are too great. But here's the point. There are times when life is so dark that a $2 parking token can make an impact, it can get a person through just one more day. The gift of a $2 token can actually be a miracle. You see, miracles are not always about performing a grand act. Miracles are about performing a grand result.
We have received incredible blessings, and seen incredible miracles. But the ones I remember most are the ones involving real people. Bob Piniewski and Connie Prutting (AJ's dad and aunt) coming all the way to MD Anderson so see Tyler and me, the regular calls from Brett's mom to check on Tyler, the young boy who showed up at our door with money from his birthday party to give to Tyler, the kids who stood outside our window yelling "Fight To Win", the kids that shaved their heads for Tyler, the ones that participated in the hockey, snowball softball, laps of love, basketball, and dodge ball events. All the calls, notes, posts, and emails.
The people coming up to say "You don't know me, but we have been praying for Tyler". "You don't know me, but we signed up as bone marrow donors because of Tyler". You don't know me, but we are now blood donors", "You don't know me, but..." They all performed a miracle in our life. Even with great organizations like Make-A-Wish Foundation, the greatest impact was meeting the people behind the gift. Hearing their stories. Learning about their heart and passion for kids.
We can all perform miracles. We can change a life by just calling to say hello, telling someone we are thinking of them. We can help a hurting friend by just calling to go to lunch, or to go have a beer (or to go have a beer for lunch). We can sign petitions, run races, donate blood, donate bone marrow, deliver meals. All of us can do these things. It is not the act, it's the result.
Several have asked me who I thought that person was in the garage. Some have said they thought he was an angel. Others said it might have been God, that the Bible says Jesus Christ walks among us without reveling Himself. I don't know. All I know is that I know God was involved. And, since it is impossible to ever "pay back" all those people who help us, God expects us to "pay forward". He expects us to always look for the opportunity, to always help those in need. And to, whenever possible, perform a miracle in the live of another human being.
I am only one, but I am still one. I can not do everything, but I can still do something. I will not refuse to do something I can.--Helen Keller
The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.--Mother Teresa
Take note-the measure that you give is the measure you receive.--Jesus Christ, Mark 4:24
I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me. --Jesus Christ, Matthew 25:40
The time I’ve had has been enough—time enough to make the world a better place for having been here.--Miles Levin
It's the journey that matters-mine and yours-the lives we can touch, the legacy we can leave, and the world we can change for the better. --Tony Dungy