This week a beautiful man-child that I had known for the 18 years of his short life, passed away whilst on a road trip across America with his family. Whilst this young man had been unwell for the latter years of his life, his death was still a shock and absolutely devastating for his family and everyone that knew him.
I have often thought of GG as we will call him, as I wrote about my own men-children every week. Whilst I typically make light of my boys and their escapades (good and bad), my thoughts over the years have often turned to GG, whose body progressively failed him until it could cope no more. So as I wrote about the hardships of 6 am rowing starts, the thrill of white water kayaking trips, the freezing conditions endured on cadet camps, the fun of gatherings on Saturday nights, and the arrival of first girlfriends, in the back of my mind was our friend GG, who didn’t have the chance to row, or kayak, or drive a car, or head out on the tram with all his mates to the races.
I also frequently thought about how lucky and blessed I am to have three healthy children, and how fortunate are my men-children and sister of a man-child, that they have their whole lives ahead of them to take on the world and all its challenges and opportunities.
That is not to take away from GG, or the things he did accomplish, both alone and with his family. I don’t for a minute want anyone to feel sorry for GG, as certainly he and his family didn’t feel sorry for themselves, or dwell on the cruel twist of fate that meant both GG and his darling younger sister suffered from a shocking childhood illness that would make their stay on this earth all too short.
Instead, they tackled the challenges head on, with more enthusiasm and energy than you could ever imagine, and ensured that their children lived life to the full. They made their kids lives as normal as they possibly could, whilst simultaneously ensuring they didn’t miss out on anything. They crammed more experiences and adventures into the short lives of their sick children, and their surviving daughters, than mine will probably ever have even if they live to 80. They are a truly remarkable, humble and amazing family.
And as to GG, and his sister, Angel J, they were both absolutely inspiring. They lived with their illness every day, they kept going, against all odds and setbacks as they became less well, they somehow retained a sense of humour, and were happy, optimistic, stoic and in short, quite heroic, making the most of every opportunity they were given. If I could bottle this determination and enthusiasm for my own children, just imagine what they could achieve?
We will all miss the beautifully handsome GG, just as we do his sister Angel J, none more so than his wonderful parents and sisters. For my part, it has been a privilege to have known such a special man-child, for the 18 years of his life, and I hope that it gives my own men-children pause to reflect on just how lucky they both are.
For those who are moved by this story and would like to recognise my friend GG and his sister Angel J in some small way, feel free to make a donation to Glenallen, a special school that they both attended for many years, where they continue to do a brilliant job catering to the needs of the most special children. http://www.glenallen-sch.vic.edu.au/