If you’ve been here before, you may already know who Dusty is, but in case you haven’t, I will explain.
Dusty is the son of a girl I’ve been friends with since high school. He is now 18 years old. Additionally, for over a year now, he has been my daughter’s Shelbie’s boyfriend.
Dusty has cancer; T-cell lymphoma. He was diagnosed late in 2012 and is still undergoing treatment. He is in the maintenance phase.
He has managed to get his driver’s license, hold a job, and just recently got his first car. He swims, fishes, and hunts. He’s quick to help out anyone who needs him, in any way he can. He also spoils my daughter rotten. Anything she wants, he will jump through hoops to get for her.
The other day my husband and I were driving down the road, and we heard someone honking their horn at us. We looked over to see Dusty, with a huge grin on his face, waving like crazy at us. I couldn’t help but grin back and wave at the kid. It reminded me of the time we ran into him at Walmart a few months ago, and he was happily showing me which stuffed animal he planned to buy Shelbie for Valentine’s Day, chatting away to both of us (Byron has also known Dusty all of his life). And another time we ran into him in a parking lot, honking and waving….and then it occurred to me: when do I see Dusty without a smile on his face? Never!
This kid does not have it easy. In fact, he never has. But that’s not my story to share here. However, Dusty has the best attitude of almost anyone I know. Any time we are together, he is happily chatting away. There are times that just he and I end up in the car together and he chats my ear off. Never complaining, always upbeat. I’ve never heard a moment of self-pity or “why me?” The only time I see him without a smile is when he is feeling very badly, from either pain or illness, usually related to chemo. Even then, he’s not complaining; it’s just the only time you see him without a huge smile, and the only time he’s quiet. I don’t know many adults who could handle things the way he does, much less 18 year olds.
The evening after we saw him in traffic, he came to my step-son’s baseball game, and I told him, as well as everyone else there, how awesome I think he is. And of course, he just smiled.
I think a lot of us – myself included, at times- could learn a lesson from Dusty, about what really matters in life, and focusing on the good things instead of the hard times.