Friday, July 26, 2013

The Gift Of Being Remembered


Thursday, I saw this story and this photo that accompanied it.

What we have here is the 41st President of the United States, George H. W. Bush, devoid of hair. On his lap is a 2 year old child who  is undergoing treatment for leukemia and is losing his hair as a result. The child is the son of the one of the men who serves on Bush's Secret Service security detail.

The boy's father shaved his head to show his solidarity with his son during his trials. The other men on the security detail, to show their support, also shaved their heads.  And former President George Bush, the man who's safety these men are charged to ensure, did likewise.

George and Barbara Bush have their own personal and tragic connection to childhood leukemia; they lost their second child, Robin, to this disease 60 years ago.

I thought this was a heartwarming story and a kind and supportive gesture to both the boy and his father. 

But as anyone who reads anything on the internet, if a story leaves you with a warm and happy feeling, for God's sake, don't read the comments.

Supportive comments quickly gave way to political diatribes against both Presidents Bush as well as current President Barack Obama, health care reform, the Iraq a political hot potato, it gets tossed around.

Is this where we are now? A simple yet deeply moving show of support for the suffering of others cannot be taken at face value and must be examined through the prism of our political ideologies.

And I've seen comments that may have seemed to have stayed on topic but somehow still missed the point. Comments along the lines of, "Big deal. So Bush shaved his head. If he really wanted to help, he'd pay for the boy's treatment."


First of all, we have no information on what financial support the Bush family may have offered to this boy's family. Maybe they've written a blank check for this child's medical care for all any of us know. And secondly, this story is about something that transcends the value of money: the gift of being remembered.

There are all sorts of struggles all of us deal with: physical sickness, mental illness, emotional turmoil, financial distress and more. And I would put to you that the worst part that is common to all these trials is the feeling of facing all of this alone. 

People who are kind and sympathetic will wish you well, offer their support and assure you that you will be in their thoughts and prayers. But it all just become pleasant platitudes and in the end, you feel alone at the center of your dark time.

But then someone does something special, daring, maybe a little crazy you realize, you were in fact in their thoughts and in their way, they are in this with you.  You are that much less alone because you know without a doubt you are remembered.

A year ago, a local teenager was fighting cancer and the chemo was causing his hair to fall out. Before the cancer made it impossible, he played football. Though no longer on the team due to his illness and treatment, the team wanted to show their support for him so they shaved their heads.  Soon, other kids at the school were doing the same. The emotional impact of this outpouring of support was very real and intense. Every time any of these kids looked in a mirror, they remembered their classmate, their friend. And trust me, that young man felt that.

I'm not saying we all have to shave our heads. (At my age, I'm not sure my hair would grow back.) But sometimes we need to do more beyond writing a check or offering our sympathies. We need to alleviate the pain of facing life's trials alone. That's when we need to show in a very real and tangible way that this person is not alone. This is when we offer the gift of being remembered.

So kudos to the 41st President and his Secret Service team for their show of support for their comrade and his son. And may we all be inspired to be as kind and supportive to our friends, family, co-workers, to our fellow man.

As I sometimes say at the end of these posts...

Be good to each other.


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