Today started out gloomy and snowy. It didn’t feel much like Spring. As I sat in my usual spot at the Starbuck’s bar pouring sugar into my oatmeal, I completely missed the bowl. The sugar spilled onto the table. Just then I got a gentle nudge on my shoulder from Jack.
Jack rides his motorized wheelchair almost every day to and from and my local Starbucks. He smiled at me and said, “I’m going to an MS meeting this week. I’m going to surprise them and show them how I can walk. It’s going to be a bright day.”
Jack makes every day bright. I met Jack at Starbucks about 5 years ago. I’ve been stopping at Starbucks ever since, saying hello and giving Jack fist bumps. He always shares his smile and we discuss the Avalanche or the Broncos or whoever is playing that day. He usually asks about “Indy.” That’s what he calls my son, because he thinks he looks like Indiana Jones (and has the adventurous stories to go with it).
What you would never know from looking at Jack is that he spent 14 years in bed. He was diagnosed with progressive MS in his thirties. A month after the diagnosis he was essentially paralyzed and had lost his voice.
“I thank God for MS,” he told me, “because He gave me a disease I could conquer.” The doctors don’t want to write about him in any journals, he shared. They don’t want to give people false hope–that this could be their story. The medical world tells him he is a miracle and that he is “one in a million.” (Something I already know.) I told him to heck with the medical journals! I wanted to write his story. It wouldn’t reach the masses like a medical journal would, but I didn’t see anything wrong with giving people hope or at least letting people rejoice in his hard work, love of life, and miraculous comeback.
As his 14 bedridden years passed and he slowly started to improve, he set his sights on walking. It took him 5 years to take his first steps. Jack wanted to take the picture above standing—not sitting in his wheelchair. He told me that when he stood for the first time, he could feel his toes wiggle. That was all the encouragement he needed. He said he wiggled and prayed, wiggled and prayed, wiggled and prayed. That was the trick.
As I brushed the spilled sugar into my hand and tossed it in the trash can, I realized that Jack was like sugar—pure sugar. He comes to Starbucks every day and spills his sugar everywhere. I’m so glad he does. I can’t think of a better way to start the day. My oatmeal is always better with some Jack on the side.