By Sean Dietrich
The man who said: “My son’s cancer turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to us. Made me see how good people are. “When you drive through your hometown and see banners with your son’s name on them, it changes you.”
To John, the man who adopted five dogs. Whose wife, Mindy, was taken too early. The same man who once encouraged me to keep writing at a time when I needed encouragement. He probably doesn’t even remember that.
To Jennifer, who says most people call her, “Jellybean.” Jellybean is epileptic. She walks to work since she can’t legally drive. She says that her past relationships haven’t lasted because of her condition. Well, she is on top of the world this week. Her boyfriend is an EMT. He knows how to deal with seizures, and isn’t afraid to help her through them. He asked Jellybean to marry him last Tuesday at his son’s middle-school band concert. She said yes.
To the thirty-four-year-old man with severe autism. I’ll call him Bill. Who was abandoned by his mother. The woman dropped him at an ER and said, “I don’t care what you do with him, he’s not coming back here.”
And to the nurse who adopted Bill. Who didn’t just give him a room in her home, but signed papers to make him family. He now refers to her as “Mom.”
And to my mother. The woman who worked harder than any female I’ve ever made eye- contact with. Who didn’t just raise me, but grew up beside me. Who endured a husband’s suicide, financial ruin, double shifts, single-parenthood, and late bills. Who survived a disease that almost ruined her. Who still goes for morning walks with her dog, Sunny, who still says thank-you prayers under her breath.
And to you, wherever you find yourself tonight. I wrote this for you. It’s not much, but it’s something.
They tell me the Man Upstairs made this whole world in six days. On Saturday, he took a coffee break and looked over his artwork. Sprawling oceans, majestic Appalachians, Waffle Houses, and American Bloodhounds. “It is good,” he probably said when he saw it.
I’m writing this on a Friday night. I’m on a porch in the woods. I’m thinking about this world, and about the fine people in it. Nurses who raise abandoned men. Those who encourage writers, just because. People who fly banners in support of childhood cancer.
There is something in this night air that makes me feel something. It’s enough to make a man drunk if he breathes deep enough.
I’m breathing. And I’m thinking about the man whose boy had terminal cancer, and what he told me. If he said it once, he said it a hundred times. “We’re so fortunate.”
His boy is alive and well today. So this is to him. And you. And everyone. I’m looking around at this dark earth, listening to crickets.
And I’ll be dogged if the Man Upstairs wasn’t right when he said it.
It is good.
So very good.