top of page

Lenten Meditation : Lessons Learned

BE A JOYFUL GIFT TO OTHERS

LESSONS LEARNED FROM A 14-YEAR-OLD AT THE END OF HIS MORTAL LIFE

 

Eight years ago this Lent, my 14 year old neighbor, Jon, died from an incurable form of leukemia.  He never got to go to high school, get his driver’s license, kiss a girl, or be in any way a normal teenager.  But this story is not about how Jon died – it is about how he lived.

 

And live, Jon did.  His family saw to that - but most importantly, he saw to that.  There was nothing too small that was not noticed, no item too small to be remarked upon and thankful for.  There was no hug too large, even on the toughest days when the latest rough medical news had been delivered.

 

There was no day that the sun did not shine somewhere in his orbit.

 

Somewhere along the line, Jon consciously and deliberately decided that he would focus on joy and on all that he had, not on all that was all-too-obviously being lost.  Joy became his mantra, and so, too, did all around him do their best to also put joy on that mantle, as hard as it was to wear. 

 

Huge, lit-up letters spelling JOY appeared in the family’s front yard.  The house was decked in orange, Jon’s favorite color.  Handmade star ornaments arrived on our front doors the Christmas before he died, thanking us for bringing joy and light into his life.  When he could no longer chew and could barely swallow, he pronounced the applesauce his father was feeding him just the most delicious applesauce he’d ever had.

 

Jon lived out the end of his too-short life determined to find, and give, and radiate joy.  What a gift he gave us in that.  How much he taught us.  He teaches me still.

 

Comments


bottom of page