As we’ve discussed before, the story of Johnny Gunther (as told in the book Death Be Not Proud, by his father) is a beautiful but bittersweet one. This brilliant boy, who brought cheer and happiness to everyone he met and interacted with (including Albert Einstein who he corresponded with), was a year away from starting Harvard…when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
For fifteen months he fought, rallying, shocking doctors into believing he might survive. He studied. He read. He spent time with his parents and friends. He wrote. He was a kid. His mother, Frances, would reflect on this brutally painful period with more than just sadness. “He wasn’t just dying of course,” she wrote. “He was living and dying and being reborn all at the same time each day. How we loved each each day. ‘It’s been another wonderful day, Mother!’ he’d say, as I knelt to kiss him goodnight.”
The truth is, every child is living and dying and being reborn all at once each day. Indeed, this is what is so beautiful about children. They are changing and growing constantly, discovering new things, discovering new parts of themselves. Yet we know, even if life is good to them, that this period is so brief. Childhood is over almost as soon as it starts. Every minute of it is signaling, as it were, that there is one less moment of childhood left.
Can you love each day together? Can you focus on making it wonderful, together? Can you make a deposit in your accounts together? Can you not take it for granted? Can you prioritize the right stuff?
Live a full life today, together. And at the conclusion, decide to be reborn and start again tomorrow…if you are so lucky.