On my way home from the office today I stopped to pick a can of my worst bad habit (chewing tobacco) at a store where the employees know me by name. One of the young men that I know by name said ‘hey Kelly, how was your day man, what else for you besides the chew?’ I replied ‘how is your day, nothing else, thanks.’
He replied ‘today is my birthday; my girlfriend cashed my paycheck and dumped me today, happy birthday to me.’ I told him Happy Birthday and asked which birthday he was celebrating and he proceeded to tell me 24 and possibly his last, thank you. This young man works 7 days a week and 2 jobs and has his whole life in front of him, yet today he was in a deep dark place and all I could think to tell him was ‘that which does not kill us makes us stronger and even though you think you have hit rock bottom, you are being tested for a bigger purpose.’ His reply ‘bigger purpose? What bigger purpose can life possibly have for me?’
I was glad to go home, home to my twin sons that do not speak and cannot be left un-supervised for longer than 5 minutes or out of distance that I cannot hear them for their safety sake. Glad for my home that holds 5 people within 3 bedrooms and not enough room that we can hear each other whisper. Glad that my sons will never think to take their lives let alone feel sorry for themselves; and glad that I live each and every day to make life as enjoyable as possible in spite of the physical and intellectual challenges my sons face.
Seventeen years ago, I was fearless and thought I had the world by its tail and it all changed in the matter of 5 minutes. Kyle was born at 12:01 and Hunter 5 minutes later and when the doctor told my wife and I that both of our sons had been born with Down syndrome, I didn’t ask ‘why me’ I asked ‘what do I need to do and learn to become the best father and husband that I can possibly be?’ And I continue in my quest to this day . . .
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every man is my superior in some way, and in that, I learn of him.”
I listen more than I talk, how about you?