All About Oliver

The Anniversary of His Diagnosis

Oliver’s Dad writes…

On this day, the anniversary of his diagnosis, I wanted to share my thoughts with everyone who has shared our journey and supported us along the way. There are so many people to thank and if I listed all of you, I fear you might stop reading from the long list! So, I won’t do that. But what should I share? I have so many thoughts and reflections and emotions — there is no singular place to start.

This is a heavy duty day. I remember the crying phone call from Jen in my office— seconds before my very last moments of blissful normal life. The only words were: “Come home now.” The drive home, not knowing anything, but knowing it was bad, but hoping, begging, it was not that bad, strangely wanting the drive to be longer, delayed. I mean, how often I wish he had something that was not life-ending . . . those, those thoughts don’t leave.

They root.

They endure.

But you can’t let them take over. And I don’t. And we don’t. You prune. You cut back. You weed. Of course, you make sure to never mulch or soil. A certain narrative, as they often do, oh the stories I have in my head seem countless, has bubbled up. It’s simple. It’s pure. And so, I just thought I would let you know about Oliver and his super strength because it’s an absolute privilege to spend every day with him, spend every struggle with him, spend funny moments with him . . . be his dad.

One of the most coveted phrases in the English language is the three-worded “I love you.” I prefer a fourth-word phrase that Oliver likes to tell friends and strangers: “This is my dad.” Oh, if you could only know because he’s beaming, and he’s pointing and not everyone can understand what he’s saying.

This is not a statistically proven fact because there is yet to be invented such an instrument that can measure it, but believe me, when there is, the results will tell you that Oliver runs at the Speed of Love. With that, I have no doubt.

He loves baths so much that if you don’t watch close, your kitchen ceiling will start leaking.

He loves movies so much that he shrieks at impossible decibels at his favorite parts.

He loves the outdoors so much that he will run outside . . . even if there is snow on the ground . . . even if he doesn’t have a jacket on . . . even if he doesn’t have shoes on . . . even if he doesn’t have socks on . . . even if it’s still dark . . . even if it’s 5:30 in the morning.

He loves people so much that he always says hello to anyone walking by and asks “what’s your name?” — always.

He loves his sister so much that the main way to tell her is in a HUGE tackling-hug. And he loves telling me ‘that’s my sister, be nice’ if I am trying to discipline Reagan.

He loves his family so much that he points to pictures around the house and says “that’s my family.” He smiles with pride. It’s infectious.

He loves school so much that he runs into the building, backpack bouncing, water bottle erupting, lunchbox jostling, him almost tripping, up the steps.

He loves life so much that to him there is nothing better than looking at one of his favorite books, in the sun, munching on a piece of pepperoni.

He loves people so much that he tells the nurses at Nationwide (Children’s Hospital) ‘thank you’ after they are finished with another one of his numerous blood draws or procedures; and this is after all the screaming. What a tough kid. What a brave boy. What a compassionate kid. My personal hero. I shall never have another.

He loves . . . he loves all of you, he loves being here, he loves being present, he loves being hugged, he loves giving hugs, he loves being where the action is, he lives trying to help, he lives saying “I love you” at the end of the day, and in the middle, and in the beginning and all of those many, many, many times in between. I will stop here. I am crying and I fear my list is getting long.

We need more people like Oliver in this world. Wouldn’t it be so healing and curing if we just said I love you more and accepted things for their good? It’s truly unconditional. It is not an easy love but it has sheer muscle and it breathes and it is relentless — oh dear God is it unstoppable.

Why then do these special people with Sanfilippo get such little time? Maybe all this active love actually breaks their heart. I think that it is not surprising that Oliver’s favorite color is Red.

I also think that it is wondrously fitting that his name is in fact, Oliver. Quite telling really. Rearrange the letters if you will. I see: I, Lover.


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