Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 17, 2007
Boy's luminous soul shone through his journey to death
David's courageous heart reflects the magic, wonder of every child
By SUZANNE ELSTON
It was in the darkest days before Christmas that David's light shone its fiercest.
Last weekend after we put up our Christmas tree, we sat and watched one of my favourite Christmas programs, Charlie Brown's Christmas. My thoughts turned to David, an incredible young man who also loved Charlie Brown.
David was only nine years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. At first the doctors were very optimistic. His parents were told that his particular cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, responded well to chemotherapy. But each round of therapy brought more bad news, and the doctors at Sick Kids in Toronto began running out of treatment options.
While we all prayed for a miracle to save David's life, the true miracle of this tragic tale was David himself. When he was first diagnosed, his main concern was that he would miss the auditions for his school presentation of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
David convinced the teacher directing the play to delay the auditions until his first round of chemo was complete so that he could have a crack at the role of Linus.
Not only did he get the part, but his performance stole the show. A talented artist, David whiled away the hours in hospital by drawing the poster to promote the play's performances. That year for Halloween, instead of trying to hide his bald head and pale complexion, David celebrated it and went out trick or treating as a ghoul.
Throughout the course of his treatment, David endured countless indignities, pain and trips to the hospital with grace and courage. Along the way he and his family won the hearts and minds of everyone who heard David's story. David's battle brought the hopes and fears of all the years together in one valiant fight. It was in the darkest days before Christmas that David's light shone its fiercest.
It seems inconceivable to me that David lost his courageous battle almost 10 years ago. After bringing so much light to so many people, it was strangely fitting that David left this world not in the winter, but on the eve of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. He died before the sun went down, in that eternal twilight that is endless summer.
We should all have as much style and grace as that little boy possessed in his short but magnificent life.
That year, and every year since, David's gift to me has been the lesson that there is joy even in pain and that each one of us can touch the lives of those around us in the most profound of ways. The miracle that we celebrate every year at this time is the reminder that even on the darkest and coldest nights of the year there is magic and wonder in the birth of every child, and that each and every one of us can make a difference.
In the words of David's favourite cartoonist, Charles M. Schultz, "And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."
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