I sat on my porch one sunny afternoon and found myself lost in thought, missing a dear friend who’s life was snatched away just one year ago. It’s hard to believe it has been three years since my friend was first diagnosed with leukemia. The moment his family received the terrifying news their lives changed forever. After the first months of chemo and multiple surgeries, they thought the cancer was gone, but it wasn’t. One morning he woke up with no sight in one eye; it was a sudden nightmare coming to life. His mom rushed him to the hospital where they admitted him and ran several tests. After days of testing and hours of waiting, they received news that no one ever expected to hear. His leukemia had returned. His second fight for life was about to begin and “whoever said winning isn’t everything, never had to fight cancer.” Each day was a struggle: doctor’s visits, riding back and forth to Chapel Hill, and the strenuous side effects of the chemo, but if there was any kid out there that would take this challenge with a smile it was Michael. Even in his darkest, most painful hours he had that contagious grin on his face. It was the biggest, wide-eyed smile you could ever imagine and you couldn’t help but look at him and smile back. There wasn’t a person out there that knew him and didn’t like him.
I leaned back in my chair, closed my eyes, and pondered on life’s little blessings. As I opened my eyes and looked up into the pure blue sky, I couldn’t help but wonder what Michael might be doing. Then, as the sun cast down its vibrant rays upon my face, warming my heart, I began to laugh because I knew exactly what Michael was doing. He was sitting there smiling down on us, because for the first time he could see just how many lives he touched.
Most would think Michael was unlucky to have a life stricken with disease and suffering, but he was truly one of the lucky ones. He appreciated each day that God gave him on this earth and smiled knowing that life itself is a blessing. I believe that everything happens for a reason and no matter how hard it is to understand, death can truly change your life. Experiencing the loss of a loved one has helped me to develop as a person. Because of Michael I have become more generous and caring, putting others before myself. I try to live each day to its fullest because you never know what tomorrow will bring. Michael inspired more people than he will ever know to reach out and help others. He was the perfect example of a true hero and his story shows how death can truly change your life. I believe that through out the ups and downs of life, God has his way of teaching you these little lessons and that everything happens for reason.