Monday, March 23, 2009

I Am Sorry, But...

"I am sorry but the cancer has relapsed and we believe that nothing further can be done to save your child."

That is the message doctors gave Brad Salmons about is son Ryan. The words we all live in fear of hearing.

The next day Ryan asked me how Tyler was doing, and I told him Tyler had just made the school volleyball team. Ryan told me to congratulate Tyler. Later Brad said, "I am so glad that Tyler is one of the ones who made it." Very kind words, especially considering Ryan's circumstances.

Tyler is alive and well. It is true we have been through Hell and back, but now I am attending volleyball games, not meeting with funeral directors. I am discussing spring break trips, not burial verses cremation options.

I thank God every day for Tyler's miracle. But it seems to me that God would appreciate a little more than a "thank you". I suspect He would like to see a little action with the "Thank you".

So here is the deal. Even if I die tonight, I will have already been granted over 10,000 more days than it appears Ryan will be given. So what have I done with those days? What lives have I impacted? How have I used the hours and minutes? Have I seized the day? What have I done to deserve 10,000 more days than these kids? And what about the 10,000 or so more days I have yet to live?

As I look into these kids eyes, I see them begging us not to squander our time. Crying out to us to live a life worth living. To give all that we have to give. Take advantage of every single moment. My focus is now on cancer, especially in children and teenagers. Your passion might be something else. But whatever it is, use your time wisely. Do not be a fool with your time. We owe it to ourselves, and we own to these children.

Ryan is now dying of the same cancer that ended the life of another young man by the name of Miles Levin. As Miles was looking at the remaining time in his life, he told this story.

I went to the driving range the other day and I was thinking how you start out with a big bucket full of balls, and you just start hitting away carelessly. You have dozens of them, each individual ball means nothing so you just hit, and hit, hit. There are no practice swings or technique re-evaluations after a bad shot, because so many more tries remain. Yet eventually you start to have to reach down towards the bottom of the bucket and you realize that tries are running out. Now each swing becomes more meaningful. The right technique becomes more crucial, so between each shot you take a couple practice swings and a few deep breaths. There is a very strong need to end on a good note, even if every preceding shot was horrible, getting it right at the end means a lot. As you tee up your last ball, you say "This is my final shot, I want to crush this with perfection; I must make this count." Limited quantities or limited time brings a new, precious value and significance to anything you do. Live every day shooting as if it’s your last shot, I know I have to. I found out today 5 year survival rates are just 20%.

So look into their eyes. We have been given what they so desperately fought to receive. They did not fear death, but they certainly were not ready. But in the wisdom of God that we can never understand, time was taken from them and given to you and me. We have the wonderful gift of more time. More time to hug, to love, to dream, to achieve. They beg us, do not squander that gift. Please take just a moment to look into their eyes. Look at every one of them. They are telling us, live a life worth living.

Miles Levin

Brett Workman

AJ Piniewski
Mason Woods
Chase Donnell
Christian Barker

Brendan Kizar
Cameron Brown

Trey Martens

Cody Robinson

Cole Ruotsala

Barry Ryan

Will Ellis

Tyler Hibinger Katie Gerstenberger

Michael Shope

Julian Avery

Kelsie McKune

Isaac Lieser

Gunner Gillespie

Gavin Wagner

Cody Camp

Your biological vitality means very little – having a beating heart and operational lungs does not define you. Your effect on the world around you does. Once you fulfill that service, your shift is done. You’re off work and it’s time to go home. --Miles Levin


Sandi said...

What a great post. Sometimes, it is so frustrating to see people wasting their time here on earth. What I wouldn't give for more time with Stef here. And I know he so wanted more time. I'm so glad Tyler is doing so well. Thanks for the reminder to be thankful for the time we have and to live life with purpose.

Lori said...

Thank you for continuing to remember Cameron.


Holly Friend said...

Everything on this post is so true!! I love that story and I will share that with many other people.

Holly Friend