Sunday, November 30, 2008

Giving Thanks

Like many of us, I thought a lot this weekend about all the things I have to be thankful for. Then I read this and decided that I am not nearly thankful enough.

I stole this whole thing from Well-Seasoned Woman, a blog I visit when I can.

"The following excerpt is by Elisa Jaffe at KOMO News, Seattle:

BOTHELL, Wash. — The day I met Brenden Foster, I met an old soul in an 11 year old’s body.
“I should be gone in a week or so,” he said calmly.
When I asked him what he thought were the best things in life, Brenden said, “Just having one.”
I didn’t understand how this child, who was a year younger than my own son, could be so courageous facing death.

“It happens. It’s natural,” Brenden told me.
Three years ago, doctors diagnosed Brenden with leukemia. The boy who once rushed through homework so he could play outside found himself confined to a bed. But there was no confining his spirit.
I had a great time. And until my time comes, I’m going to keep having a great time,” he said.
Brenden’s selfless dying wish was to help the homeless.
“They’re probably starving, so give’em a chance,” he said, “food and water.”
But Brenden was too ill to feed them on his own. So volunteers from Emerald City Lights Bike Ride passed out some 200 sandwiches to the homeless in Seattle.
Then Brenden’s last wish took on a life of its own.

A TV station in Los Angeles held a food drive. School kids in Ohio collected cans. People in Pensacola, Florida gathered goods. And here in Western Washington, KOMO viewers from all over took part in the Stuff the Truck food drive in Brenden’s honor. Hundreds with generous hearts donated six and a half huge truck loads of groceries and more than $60,000 in cash to benefit Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline.

Brenden touched hearts all over the world. His wish came true, and he lived to see it. “He had the joy of seeing all of the beautiful response to his last wish,” said his grandmother, Patricia McMorrow. “It gives him great peace and he knows that his life has meaning.”

“He’s left a legacy and he’s only 11,” said his mother, Wendy Foster. “He’s done more than most people dream of doing just by making a wish.”
Days before dying, Brenden surprised us with a sudden burst of energy. He wanted to get off the oxygen, hop out of bed and go buy a video game. Wise beyond his years, but still a kid.
“I have been so blessed to have this child. A mother couldn’t ask for a better son,” Wendy said.

The B-Man, as his family called him, had one more wish before going: sprinkle wildflower seeds to save the bees. He had heard bees were in trouble.
Someone answered B-Man’s wish. A retired pilot asked his pilot and flight attendant friends to sprinkle wild flowers around the world, from Bali to Brazil, on Brenden’s behalf.
When asked what made him sad, Brenden said, “When someone gives up.”
Brenden Foster never gave up. Even as he clung to his last hours of life, Brenden kept giving.
“Follow your dreams. Don’t let anything stop you,” he said.


It is rather humbling to consider the metaphysical weight of simple existence when most of us are just jonesing for turkey leftovers, a late-night bootie call, or a better job… and yet, here on earth was this mere child that knew he was short on time and made the most altruistic requests of the people around him. Even more astonishing was his attitude about the years of his life, that he had a great time, no regrets.

Ponder this when you are doing your Thanksgiving gratitudes: There are so many gifts this young person imparted on us and we are fortunate enough to be able to play it forward for him."

Let's plant some wildflowers. Not just in memory of Brenden, but in hope for all of us.