We’ve all heard the expression, “the eyes are the window to the soul.” It’s a rather absurd notion – not because of its veracity, but because of a lack of alternate windows. As if one could discern intent through an open mouth or wide nostril. Just look at the face. What social cue could you ever glean from its other orifices? Without the look me in the eye mother-son interaction, I can picture a young mother staring into her son’s ear to discover truth like a scientist into a microscope.
Take the literal interpretation and my general silliness away, I get the allusion. They eyes are amazing in what they can relay nonverbally. In fact, I got smacked by several sets of eyes very recently.
This month is September – Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I knew that before, but now that I work for CURE Childhood Cancer, I really know it. It’s been busy! This is not a complaint, I love my job. When this month ends, I will have been doing it for a year and I can no longer imagine doing anything else. In fact, I recently told my lovely wife that the only thing I would rather do than this is write for a living. She quickly pointed out, “You do write for a living.” Of course, she is correct. What I meant was crank out three best-sellers a year like James Michener while sitting on a beach sipping fruity drinks with paper umbrellas. But yes, I daily get to write on a topic about which I am passionate – children with cancer.
And I get to meet the most amazing kids: a thirteen-year-old who has been fighting cancer more than half his life and a girl who donated her twenty-first birthday to our organization because she’s been dealing with cancer and its side effect since she was two. For September, I read the stories of 120 incredible kids and I made this collage to use on social media.
Those eyes. Those windows. Those souls.
Sweet, innocent babes forced to fight like no man should have to. Their September eyes stare at me. I see their eyes even when mine are closed. I can’t look at it without getting a chill because some of those eyes are gone. I won’t tell you which ones, but this cancer beast is vicious. We comfort ourselves and talk about eighty percent cure rates for childhood cancer. But that leaves twenty percent who don’t survive. Children who die… 1 in 5. Kylie was in that 20%.
And I step back, and I remember those carefree days before I knew these facts. Before I realized that children die from cancer. Back when I thought it was a disease for seventy-year-old smokers. How foolish and naïve I was.
Happiness is a kind bedfellow of naivety.
In this dreamy state I see little Kylie skipping toward me dressed in her blue ballet leotard, lugging a huge backpack on her shoulders. The weight on her back forces her to stoop slightly as she approaches, giving full view to the rolling acorns on the sidewalk. She stops to smash one under her heel. The sound makes her giggles. Another acorn squished. A squeal. Then another and another until she realizes I’m waiting. She looks at me, hoists up her backpack, and sprints the remaining distance.
“Hi, Baby. Let me take your backpack. It looks heavy.”
She deftly swings the burden off her back and into my waiting hands. It is heavier than I could have ever imagined.
“You take it for good,” she says.
And then she is gone. She is gone and I am still holding the weight.
20% – 1 in 5
We must do better. How can we not? Innocent September Eyes depend on us.
Today is the day we are sharing Kylie’s story in an effort to raise money for research that will lead to a cure. If you can, please share this burden with us by clicking here