I heard a story this weekend, that’s been on my mind, since, and I just wanted to share it because, as the title tells you, it was such a beautiful story.
It’s been a while since I’ve been on a team. And I have to say, now that I’m back playing and not getting any younger, it’s true: you really do start appreciating all the little things that make up the opportunity to be a part of a group and playing.
For female soccer players, the long bus rides is something that most people dread. But for me, this time around, I enjoyed my first ride in a while as we cruised down to Sydney, sitting and hanging out with my new teammates, getting a chance to sit and talk to people, getting to know them. I always find it incredible, the kinds of amazing stories that so many people have if you take the time to get to know them, and that’s something that I love about having deeper conversations with people. Its a privilege to be able to unravel the important things in their lives, that make them who they are, and the experiences that shape their lives that aren’t always so apparent from a first glance.
As I chatted with my new friend across the aisle, I asked her about her family. I’m not sure how we meandered on to the topic, and got into specifics, but she started telling me about her little brother that has cerebral palsy who is 13. She proudly showed me a picture of him, an absolutely gorgeous kid, and told me about a girlfriend that he had a couple of years ago. She showed me another picture of a beautiful, smiling little girl, so full of life despite a body that was obviously failing her.
A couple of years ago, her brother was 11 and this little girl was 9, and they were the best of friends. The little girl was tiny; her little body was born not being able to digest food, and so she had a tube that fed her and kept her alive. As she got older, her body started to reject the food, and so her condition inevitably became terminal. At this stage, the Make-A-Wish Foundation stepped forward and told this little girl who was friends with her brother, that she could have anything that she wanted. A trip to Disneyland? A new, amazing expensive toy? A chance to meet a celebrity?
No she asked to be able to have a sleep over at my new teammate’s little brother’s house. Was she sure that that was what she wanted? As they thought perhaps she didn’t understand the enormity of what was being offered to her. She could have anything at all.
But no, all she wanted was a sleepover with her best friend.
In her condition, this was no small task, and so with a team of nurses and caregivers, the two little friends got to have their sleepover.
I had tears in my eyes listening. These little things, we able bodied people, who have been given our health, take for granted.
I asked my friend, cautiously, if the little girl, now that a couple of years had passed, was still alive. She shook her head no. That she’d died a short time later.
She told me that when they told her brother, they didn’t know how he would absorb the news. He can’t walk or talk, but as she says, he is completely with it. She said he sat by himself and cried for days. He wrote a eulogy that my friend read for her brother at her funeral, talking about what her friendship had meant to him. My friend said how much she hated public speaking, yet she found the courage to do this because her little brother had needed her to do this for him.
My friend tells me that a few years later her little brother has become obsessed with gardening. She tells me that digging out in the dirt really isn’t her thing, but her brother has been dedicated to his new garden, and it is all that he wants to do in his free time. He’s dedicated his garden to his little friend who passed away a couple of years ago. The other day, he came in upset because he couldn’t get a big root to budge, so out trudged my friend, as she told me with her perfect make up on, and she spent her afternoon digging out the root, so her brother could have his garden.
I teared up again on the bus on so many fronts. So much that we take for granted in this life as able bodied people, so pure is the love of children, so many stories that layer all of us if we take the time to get to know people below the surface.