Some choices, on the other hand, tend to be a bit more difficult. Choosing to leave behind family and friends for such a long time is always hard but it's even harder when you know that there are family members at home that are going through a rough time. Especially when those family members are so young that they should have no concept of what a "rough time" even means. A rough time for a four year old boy should be waiting in a long line to go down the slide or having to share the green Playdough (seriously though, green is the best). No child should have to be rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night with a fever of 103 for a blood transfusion. That's just a thing that shouldn't happen.
So it amazes me that, when it does happen, that that particular four year old is able to muster up the bravery and the strength to not only undergo all of this misery, but do it with a smile and hugs and kisses a'plenty. I'm not that brave....I know I'm not. My little cousin, Connor, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia shortly before I left, is truly one of the toughest people I know. Hearing about how awesome he is never ceases to amaze me each and every day.
All gloating aside though, (and yes, I will shamelessly gloat that this amazing human being is part of my family) Connor is by far, not perfect. His treatments don't only affect his body but his moods as well. Sometimes, he gets upset for seemingly no reason or throws a tantrum over what anyone else would consider a worthless matter. In other words, he's a normal four year old. People have the tendency to believe that cancer makes children wise beyond their years and while Connor might just be the most admirable person I know, he is still only a little boy. Having a disease is not what makes Connor heroic; it's his ability to, despite being stuck with needles, feeling sick all of the time, and sitting in a hospital bed, remain a normal child. And a particularly intelligent and kind one, at that.
I don't think there's anything braver than remaining normal in the face of such dismal and persistent abnormalities. I'd be content knowing that I have half the bravery he does.
My trip to Ireland so far has been incredible in every way but that doesn't change the fact that it's more difficult for me to get the news I need from family members. Choosing to come here, I knew how hard it would be to watch this tough little man go through so many ups and downs from so far away and I can't help but wish there was something more I could do.
Connor had a rough day today and the best I can do is just ask people to keep him in their thoughts and send a little love his way. If anyone deserves it, it's him.