Who are we? I mean, we all have names and personalities, morals and ethics, needs and demands, but, what is underneath all of that? What is beneath the beauty of our skin, or the strength of our bones? I think that underneath all of this is a single idea, a thought so strong that it begins to shape us, transform us and we begin to represent that idea – at least at first that’s what it appears to be. As children, we hope to become something extraordinary.
We have dreams and we are all full of hope; some of us want to be the next Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky, others may want to cure cancer or be the first person to land on Mars and yet others may want to become Presidents and Prime Ministers. The point is that at some moment in our life we wanted to become that special somebody that everyone would know and admire, so why is it that only a handful of us have ever attained our dreams? I have learned that we lose our ability to hope as we become adults and as we realize how hard we have to work to achieve those goals. This is my story of how I obtained my special idea and why I’m trying to shelter it so that life doesn’t grab it with its icy hand and shatter it to a million pieces.Order now
There are certain people who have transcended the reality of life and discovered that we will only live for so long and we might as well do what the hell we can while we’re in it. They are the people who cling onto their special idea no matter what gets thrown their way. I met Emily when she was seven and a half years old and recovering from her second chemotherapy treatment. She was sitting to the side, humming and drawing a picture with a red crayon. I went over to talk to her and as I pulled a chair beside her she gave me a weak smile and asked me, “Would you like to draw with me?” Even the devil would not have refused her offer. I sat beside her, talked to her and drew with her. I learned that she had been diagnosed with Wilms Tumor, a tumor that grows on the kidneys, and when she was diagnosed it had already spread to most of her surrounding organs.
Emily had a dream. Her dream was to be a track and field athlete like no other. On good days, when she was up to it, her mother would take her to the track and she would run. Every time I saw her run I always imagined that she was running away further and further away from cancer, defying it, fighting it, as if to say, ‘come on cancer, I’m just too fast for you’. On her eighth birthday in the month of July we took Emily to a handicap track and field competition in Etobicoke. If you did not know her, you had no way of guessing that she had been inflicted with cancer. I asked her whether she was nervous or not. She laughed at me, punched me and then said, “Nervous?! I’ve wanted to do this my whole life… and I’m going to win this thing!” I have never seen anyone happier before a competition as I have seen Emily. She was doing the thing that she loved, with the support of the people that she loved.
She was an eight year old girl with Wilms Tumor, had survived two chemotherapy treatments and was taking over six pills a day; heaven knows how she was standing, let alone running! And damn, when she ran it truly was something extraordinary. It was as if God himself descended to Earth and whispered into her ear, “Go” – it truly was a supernatural event. I don’t think I will ever see a person run with such dedication and zeal ever again in my life. She ran with a purpose, she ran as if something had beheld her and she would do everything to achieve it. She finished fifth of the eight competitors. That was the moment that I realized that I better do something in this life before death decides to take me.
Emily died one month after the race. Emily was the person who instilled into me that special idea, a purpose in life that so many of us either forget or abandon. She taught me that when you want to do something you better go out there and do it, because life is way too damn short. Her death put things into perspective for me – how brutal and unjust life can be. I realized that you could die at any moment; you don’t know that the breath that you take now may very well be the last of your life. So, I’m going to treasure my dream, protect it and when the time is ready I will announce it to the world and let life do its very best to snatch it away – because I sure as hell won’t give it up.