But then kids like Matthew wander into the Visitor Center. Matthew visited the park three times this week. Sweet, quiet, eight-year old with blonde curls, blue eyes, and an inquisitive nature. On his first visit with his grandad, I offered the Junior Ranger program to him (as I do with all kids). It was too late in the day to finish, but I told him he could earn the badge and patch if he did the work and came back mailed the book to us. A pretty standard issue, I did not think anything of it. The next day, he visited with his dad, book completed. Good job, Matthew! I love to see Junior Rangers excited to earn their shiny badges.
Today, Matthew visited with his grandmother. He wanted to show her the park and the cemetery. They had lunch here, enjoyed the beautiful day at the park. While Matthew was browsing through the bookstore, I started talking to Matthew's grandmother. Matthew and his family have been in Murfreesboro these past few days because his teenage sister has cancer. She had been treated and had to come back for some more tests; as it turned out, the cancer came back.
I think my heart broke into about thirteen hundred different pieces, hearing that, thinking of the family. The grandmother explained to me that the park had become a form of refuge for Matthew, a peaceful place. She remarked that obviously cancer for the girl was hard for the whole family, but Matthew had a particularly hard time. I had to fight back tears. My petty perceptions of overwhelming days quickly get thrust into perspective when I hear about burdens others have to bear.
Before Matthew left, I gave him a "special" Junior Ranger badge, citing the reason that he came three days in a row. That little piece of plastic made the kid grin ear to ear and melt my heart. These are my reasons that I need to remember when I want to shake my fist at the sky in frustration. It is all a matter of perspective.
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