Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Perspective!! ... from a boy who loved a dog.
One of our favorite campers is a young boy named Colton. Colton has a rare form of cancer that was discovered when a tumor was found on his brain stem. Colton was 9 at the time, and has gone through untold miseries, pain and sickness throughout the last 2 years, but at this time, he is doing very well and there seems to be every reason to hope that the cancer has been beaten. Hopefully for good! Colton is an ordinary boy who has been through some extaordinary circumstances. And while he's just a kid,most of the time , every once in a while he'll say something that goes straight to my heart, really opens my eyes & gives life some perspective.
First, a little background:
We met Colton after his cancer had been diagnosed and was already undergoing extreme treatments, so our initial meetings were with a weak, sickly, boy whose body was ravaged not only by the cancer, but by the brutal treatments required to deal with this horrid disease. In spite of all that, his smile was bright and his dimples would just pop out at you whenever he found something that made him happy. One of the things that seemed to make him the happiest was the friend he found in our dog Niko. Niko was a huge red dog, who seemed to instinctually understand that Colton was an extremely special someone who needed to be loved and protected. There was no gradual "getting to know you" phase. There was an instant, un-conditional bond. The friendship just was. Throughout Colton's treatments, and up until Niko died, these two were the best of friends. Many times when Colton was too weak or too depressed to even want to try to get out of bed, I could take Niko to the house, and either Colton would drag that frail little body out of bed, or Niko would jump up and they would just sit there together. Colton drew strength from Niko, and Niko loved him back unconditionally. Niko, was a very active dog who loved to play, and when there were other kids around, he would run off to roughhouse and play hard with them. But if Colton was there, you could be sure that every few minutes, Niko would stop in the middle of whatever he was doing and go to Colton and sit with him for a minute or two just to be sure he was ok. And then when the tables were turned and it was Niko who was in need and dying, (ironically, from cancer) Colton seemed to know that his buddy was sick and came to be with him and return that love and support. Just two days before Niko died, Colton sat on the floor where Niko was lying and just petted that big head and talked to him. You could literally see Niko relax and then, he just layed there and soaked up the love. It was quite simply, a beautiful thing to behold, and I feel honored and blessed to have been a part of it.
Colton took it quite hard when Niko died (and believe me, he wasn't the only one). One day not too long afterwards, Colton was sitting in my office and we were just talking about things in general when the following conversation occured:
"How long have you worked for PawPaw?"
"A little over 3 yrs."
"How come I haven't known you that long?"
"Well, because I didn't ever get to meet you until after you got cancer, and that's only been 2 yrs ago."
"I met Niko at the same time didn't I?"
"We really had some good times with Niko didn't we?"
"We sure did, even though most of the time you were so sick"
"Yeah, but since I've had cancer, I met you, and I met Niko, and I met all those great Doctors, and I'm getting better. You know, when I think about it, some of the best things that have ever happened to me in my life, happened after I got cancer..."
...then we went back to talking about general boy stuff, and I doubt that Colton ever gave the converstation another thought. I, on the other hand have thought about that conversation more times than I can count. To think that someone who has been through so much horrible stuff in his 12 short years, can look back at it and still see the best things in his life, well...,