Today offered both the highest highs and the lowest lows that I’ve felt since I checked in.
The lows came in the form of news of the death of a young man named Andrew Franklin. I never got the opportunity to meet Andrew in person, but he was there for me at a time when I really needed it. At the end of March, I found out that my initial treatment wasn’t as successful as we all expected it to be and that I would need to undergo some more intense chemotherapy going forward. I’ve never opened up to anyone but my wife about how hard I took that news. I was incredibly broken, and as close to giving up as I’d ever been. I confessed to my wife that I wasn’t sure that it was worth it, and that the idea of giving up seemed less scary than the suggested 3 rounds of even more intense treatment and a stem cell transplant – because, who has ever even heard of a stem cell transplant? Eventually, I took to Facebook to let my friends and family know the bad news. Of course, I got tons of “you’ve got this” and “keep fighting” messages from familiar faces – but I also got a message from a stranger named Andrew Franklin.
I was instantly blown away by Drew’s level of acceptance of his circumstances, and his strength in the face of all that he has overcome. Instantly upon reading that message, I knew that I wanted to be more like he was. From that point on, I watched from a distance as he made living with cancer look almost easy. I watched him fall further and further in love with music. I watched him stop whatever he was doing to personally thank his friends, by name, for their support. I watched him tell jokes, and smile, and be everything that any man in this situation wishes he would be.
Once the news of his passing became public, it became painfully clear that I’m far from the only person that felt this way about Andrew. His Facebook page was immediately flooded with words from brokenhearted friends and family, pictures of him smiling from ear to ear, and videos of him performing music. I can’t help but feel like I’ve learned even more about him today than I knew before he passed.
As I sit here, I find myself in awe of him in a million ways, and I can only hope that I’m able to impact someone the way he impacted me. Thank you, Andrew.
But my day wasn’t without its bright spots, too. My wife brought my son to visit me for the first time since I’ve been in the hospital. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss him. I know it’s weird to be best friends with a preschooler, but don’t judge me. I was out for a walk when I heard a raspy little voice bellowing out “DADDDDYYYYYYYYYY?!” through the entire hospital. I turned to look back at him, and the next thing I knew he was in a full sprint in my direction. He hugged my legs, and I bent over to join in the embrace. I’ve only been gone for 5 days, but in that moment it felt like the first time that I’d been able to hug him in years. We walked back up to my room, and no one will be surprised to hear that he immediately took over the place. Just as soon as he arrived he had become friends with all of the nurses, raided the pantry for graham crackers, claimed a recliner in my room as his own, and talked to anyone who would listen about his stuffed Goofy and his two imaginary “ports,” which suspiciously match my own medical devices. They didn’t stay long, because, honestly, my son’s energy level isn’t hospital friendly, and we had to get him out of here before something got broken.
But it was great to see him.
I needed it. Especially today.
I teared up when the elevator doors shut, but I didn’t let myself live in that moment too long… because I know that he is the entire reason why I’m doing this.
My homey Kimberly came through with more of the Lord’s Wingstop.
and my brother Ben came through with MAD Panera Bread money!