1) Make a Wish employees/volunteers are angels walking amongst us.
2) Leukemia fucking sucks.
PART 1: I will forever love the Make-a-Wish Foundation
I’ve been down with the make a wish foundation for about 17 years now. I had heard of the organization before, but was personally affected by it around the age of 11. My older brother, aprox 14 at the time of his wish, was born with a heart condition. He suffered through 3 open heart surgeries before he was 3 years old. The first of which when he was just an infant. Have you ever seen a baby with an open heart surgery scar? It’s heart-breaking (no pun intended). But the only time Jordan showed that bad boy off was to impress a lady. Never for pity. This is why I’m aware you don’t have to be ‘dying’ to have a wish granted. Most people don’t know this.
For Jordan’s wish my family was flown to New York for a few days. He went to Sam Ash and picked out the guitar and amp of his dreams- and that was that. A simple wish granted. This happened to coincide with the height of my brother’s grunge/nirvana/teen angst period so he was hilariously embarrassed and a little bit scowly at times. But the joy on his face when holding his new guitar is something I will never forget. My brother succumbed in a round-about way to his condition a few years later. I’m so grateful for this memory. And I’m sure my parents are as well.
PART 2: Leukemia fucking sucks
2 years after Jordan died, our older brother Jeremy was diagnosed with AML. Leukemia out of the fucking blue. Vegan, straight edge, very clean living, no family history of leukemia. You’d be hard pressed to find a traditional explanation of why he was struck with leukemia. but such is life, and I was learning quickly that life is just not fair or rational.
My brother died almost one year to the day of his diagnosis. In that year, a lot of horrible things happened to him. Chemo is a bitch, but radiation is a fucking succubus from hell. He became very frail. Skin sallow. Sunken eyes. No eyelashes or eyebrows. They always show people bravely shaving their heads on TV to beat chemo to the punch, but they never show you how you just become hairless. Missing eyelashes is a freaky look not many can pull off. In between rounds of chemo and radiation he would grow back a very fine layer of downy baby hair on his pale scalp and I would stroke it when I was feeling brave and not afraid of hurting him. He was in so much pain. All the fucking time. After his first round of radiation, he coughed up the lining of his esophagus. This was absolutely fascinating to him, as he was a fucking nerd much like myself. (He’s where I get it from) He made me look at it and try to cut it with a plastic hospital fork and knife. “You can’t! You can’t cut it!”
My brother died. It was awful. It was traumatizing. It was horrible. I never want to think about the final moments of his life, but sometimes it’s all I can think about. I’m haunted by the sounds and sights of his body contorting and gasping for air and finally relaxing. When I hear of people being diagnosed with cancer or leukemia, I try so HARD. I Swear I try with all my might to be positive for them. But in the back of my mind, those final agonizing moments are playing on a loop.
This is why I love Batkid. This is why this story means so much to me, and I, like most of this city watched all day with tears in my eyes. Tears of hope, tears of joy, tears of fear that it will come back, but mostly just tears of gratitude.
I’m grateful that so many people took time out of their day to participate in this event. I’m grateful that for one day, maybe his parents weren’t worrying about his future, but really, truly living in the moment. I’m grateful that his little brother got to see him be a superhero that day. And I’m mostly grateful that for one day, this brave kid got back a little piece of his childhood that leukemia has robbed him of for the last 3 years.
Though it’s a daily struggle to practice, I am a firm believer in the power of positive thinking. I especially believe in this power when facing a potentially terminal illness. I love that for one day, thousands of strangers banded together to make this kids dream come true. He believed he was Batkid. Maybe (Hopefully) he still believes that. Because after you’ve saved a damsel in distress, saved Lou Seal, and foiled the riddler all in one afternoon, how difficult could beating cancer possibly be?
Thank you Batkid. Thank you Make a wish. Thank you bay area volunteers. Thank you brothers for showing me true courage. Thank you.