I took a leave of absence from Wall Street ten months ago. I dedicated my time to Max and my new project. I accompanied him to the hospital five days a week for chemotherapy. We would get there around 9:00 a.m. and leave anywhere between four and seven p.m. depending on his treatment for the day. He and I would spend most of our days in the play area playing basketball, video games, and dinosaurs. Sometimes, I would act silly and clumsy like a clown and walk into walls and doors pretending to bump my head or nose. He would laugh hysterical for minutes on end. And then, I would go to sit down and miss my chair entirely. Anything for the kid, right?
I had the honor of meeting a twenty-seven year old man named Justin and his wife, Kelley from Mississippi. They were at Memorial Sloan Kettering because their six year old son Codey had Neuroblastoma. It is a rare pediatric cancer that effects six hundred children a year. Codey, had been treated at the hospital since he was one years old and by the time he was three he had been in remission. He had a relapse about two years ago. Codey was often times sleeping in his stroller because he could not walk and was weak from treatments. They stayed at The Ronald MCDonald House. Max and I bought Codey a remote control car. It was the first time I saw Codey smile.
Justin and his family live in the deep south of Mississippi and is 3 hours from the closest airport. He has six hundred people in his hometown with two traffic lights. He lives on a farm the size of central park and shares the land with his parents and his brother. His driveway is all dirt and is over two miles long. He is a telephone repairman and has spent all his savings on travel to and from New York City over the years in hopes to find a miracle at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
As different as Justin, from Mississippi and I are, at our core we are very much the same. We would do anything for our children. I emailed Justin this past weekend too see how Codey was doing. I was saddened by his response, “I am sorry to say, he passed on Wednesday night.”
I sat there wiping my tears, staring at the key board, not knowing how to respond. And then I typed, “ I am so sorry to hear. He was a warrior and is a hero. My thoughts and prayers will always be with him and your family. Remember, you always have a brother in New York if you need.” I clicked send. I have not heard from him since and probably never will again…