Three Labors

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An adolescent male lay in a hospital bed on Christmas Eve, watching the happy children around him, in envy and indigence. They had parents who cared and wanted them to live. Some wore wigs, but most were bald. The holiday teddy bears were being passed out, just like they were in the five previous years that he had been there. He could not help but feel sorry for the small children; they were clueless, and so were their families. Seeing that their ignorance was bliss, he never let on that he knew that they would never make it. Half of these kids do not have a chance of surviving, just like him. His doctors and nurses said to him each day, "You're a trouper, Ian. Kids like you are going to turn out just fine! Just wait and see!" Ian knew better than to believe this. Once a week, a therapist had an hour session, discussing this and that with him, trying to make him smile. Ian liked his therapist; she was kind of...warm and fuzzy. They had interesting talks, and boring ones; it was one of the highlights of Ian's week.
It was December third that Ian and his newest therapist were conversing his latest illness update, and things were not looking up. Ian put it straight out on the table.
"Look, Miss Amy, I know that I am going to die, but I have missed my entire childhood. I am fifteen now, and I have been stuck in this hospital for five years, and I have never even met my family. No one knows my name, or who I am. I really want to leave a mark on the world. I just want to be remembered as a great guy when I am dead."
"I see," Miss Amy replied. "I am sure that there is someway that I can help you with that, but what exactly is it that you want to do?"
"Well, I have always wanted to go streaking at a football game during half time. I am totally envious of someone stupid enough to do something like that."
"Wow, Ian, every time I think you have grown up a little bit, you always say something like that to make me laugh and think otherwise."
"No, I'm serious! I-"
But she cut him off.
"That's enough for today, we'll finish discussing htis next week."

The next week came and went as it always did. He followed the same schedule as always: three pills in the morning, breakfast, physical therapy for an hour, tutoring, lunch, therapy, treatment, more medicine, and bed. Miss Amy came back on Wednesday carrying an envelope.
"I have something for you. Get dressed, and I will be waiting out in the car."
A nurse helped Ian out of bed and got him dressed. He got in the car with Miss Amy. The two of them rode for about two hours, and finally, they hit thick traffic. In an instant, Ian realized where he was, and a huge grin broke out upon his face. He looked at Amy, and she smiled back. He mouthed a thank you as they parked, and began to walk towards the stadium. Their seats were on the fifty yard line, and down on the very first row. They could smell the sweat radiating off the football players. As the game waxed on, Ian's anticipation increased; he could hardly wait until half-time. The whistle sounded, and Ian jumped from his seat. He headed for a bathroom first. Then, before anyone coud say, "HOLY COW, THERE'S A STREAKER!" Ian bolted straight across the football field, naked as a jaybird. Not only did Ian make the evening news, the front page of the sports page, and ESPN about twelve times that night, but he was also escorted out by a security guard.
Ian did not see Amy again until the following Wednesday, but his nurses could hardly contain him, he was so ecstatic. When Wednesday rolled around, Amy and Ian talked about the other things that he wanted to do in order to be remembered. Ian had thought long and hard about it, and finally, he came to the conclusion that his next footprint left behind would be to break a world record. Subsequently, they set the date, and broke the record. Ian and Amy ate a twelve inch pizza in 5.7 seconds. No one had ever done it that fast before. He went back to his room that evening feeling satisfied, gratified, and weaker than he had in months. This was not a good sign.
The next week, Ian unveiled his third and final labor. He wanted to change someone else's life. He wanted to change someone's life so that they were a better person because of a favor or deed that he did for them. Well, Ian grew weaker and weaker by each day, and by the next week, he could barely raise his head off of his pillow. He knew that his time was coming, but he didn't know when. With his time running out, Amy began coming more and more frequently, as if she wanted to see him as many times as she could before he died. Each time they discussed what person's life could be altered by a bedridden fifteen-year old.
By the last week in January, Ian's doctors were giving up hope. It was a rare, complex type of cancer, that they had not seen. With his health failing, Amy began to lose all hope of making Ian great. In his final hours, Amy was there, holding his hand and talking to him, trying to be encouraging.
Weakly, Ian said to Amy, "I never got to change anyone," and Amy replied,
"Of course you did. You changed me. You showed me that no matter how grim the situation is, there is always hope and always something to smile about. There is no doubt in my mind that you will be remembered as a great person. You are a great person."
Moments, later, Ian died, leaving Amy in a big sobbing heap. The hopsital mounted a plack on the wall in his honor, but no ceremony was held. On Ian's tombstone was written: "A Great Human Being."





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