I could write a really funny post about Whit’s Masters party yesterday. I could tell you that he doesn’t ever throw parties, and that his entire menu consisted of a keg, chips with a microwaved velveeta/rotel mixture, and steak sandwiches. I could tell you that my dad came upstairs, looked around and shouted, “Who the hell are all these people?” I could tell you that Whit grilled and sliced the meat then sat on the couch and drank beer and every guest had to fend for himself. I could tell you that his guest list was the most disorganized motley crew of golf fans and no one had anything to say to anyone else. I could tell you that even the dog thought it was a weird afternoon.
Or I could tell you about Kyle, who is the son of a guy who works with Whit. Their family was here yesterday. The dad is also a good friend of Whit’s, and just an amazing guy. Six years ago, when I met him, he told us he thought something was funky with Kyle’s eye. Kyle was ten. We didn’t know it, but Kyle’s funky eye was because Kyle was about to be diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer lodged in his skull.
Kyle is a sick kid. He told me yesterday that they’ve removed his face, from under his left eye down to his jaw. He told me he doesn’t have any taste buds and he’s not hungry unless he takes an appetite stimulant. He told me he’s tired of being amazing and strong and courageous, and that he just wants to be normal. He told me that when he was ten and diagnosed, his friends got scared and ditched him. He doesn’t blame them, he said, he just wished he didn’t have to hear the rumors that he was dying.
He told me he’s going to college – the same college his sister attends. He’s going with his best friend, who’s the one person capable of looking beyond his misshapen face to see the kid inside. He told me they’re going to run all over the campus playing a goofy game called “Sweet or Sour,” and that when he grows up, he’s going to be a doctor because he has, sadly, learned so much about medicine.
But Kyle’s dad told me that Kyle has made it clear he’s done fighting. He has survived stage IV cancer two times. He has shadows on his brain and nodules on his lungs, so the cancer is playing a mean game of chicken with this kid.
Kyle, I couldn’t cry when you were here yesterday. I could hug you, but I couldn’t rip that cancer out of your body and send you outside to play soccer. I couldn’t put the light back in your parents’ eyes. Despite my ability to find the good in everything, I couldn’t come up with a single reason you are going through this. I could give you a brownie and talk to you about video games while you were here, but I had to wait for you to leave to really let the sadness in.
It’s not pity. It’s not even anger at the wicked injustice of it all. It is just such deep sadness for this (sorry, Kyle) amazing, strong boy. It’s really an all-consuming sadness. I know that won’t help Kyle, but I don’t know what I can do that will help him.
Yes, it’s cliché, but hug your kids really, really tightly. And maybe send prayers or karma or kindness Kyle’s way. I know that I’m going to try hard to think of Kyle when some driver irritates me or the kids won’t listen to what I say – I’m going to put all my daily annoyances in perspective. They are so supremely unimportant when you look at what Kyle’s family is facing daily.
And then I’m going to hug my kids really, really tightly again.