Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BLESSED (03/07/19)
- TITLE: The Kid Behind Sid
By Jack Taylor
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‘87’ was born on 8/7/87 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and, before his first winter in ‘87 froze the ponds, he was bashing the sides of his crib with a plastic hockey stick. At two, he was shooting the one-inch disk with accuracy. The ‘next one’, after the great Gretzky, had arrived. He became the only teenager in any major North American sports league to win a scoring title. He was the youngest captain in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup.
Dilbert Donovan created different rumors soon after he was born. His skeletal muscles betrayed him before he took his first step onto the ice. Instead of scouts following him around for highlight reel goals, doctors followed him to confirm the diagnosis of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy before he started kindergarten.
The muscle proteins that fueled Sidney Crosby didn’t get made for Dilbert Donovan. While Sidney’s dad leaped for joy, Dilbert’s dad put in extra shifts and shuffled in late at night to hear a teary rendition of the latest doctor’s report from the next blood test.
While Sid laced on his skates for another midget record, Dilbert laced on braces and tried to endure another corrective surgery.
Sid cruised through skating and shooting drills while Dilbert cruised through X-rays, echocardiograms, CT scans, and MRIs. Sid found his drive from within and for a while, it seemed that Dilbert might do that as well. One in 5,000 shares his blessing.
Dilbert spent hours watching Sid power through other teams on his way to record after record. He fought his own fight with assisted ventilation, steroids and anticonvulsants. His immunosuppressants helped delay damage to his dying muscle cells.
On a cloudy day in August, Sid’s birthday to be exact, Dilbert struggled for hope. His hero had fallen to a concussion and it looked like he might be sidelined for the upcoming season. The young man in the wheelchair stared out the window as a young bird limped across the grass outside the respite care center where his parents had left him for two weeks. A cat was crawling on its belly, fixated on its prey.
“No!” Dilbert gurgled out the best he could. “No.”
A young man in a chaplain’s collar, passing by, noticed the bird and scooped it up. He noticed Dilbert watching through the window and brought the little bird in. Its wing was broken.
Jamey Scott had wanted to make a difference for his entire twenty-five years. Despite his cleft palate he had graduated through seminary and endured the mocking of immature age mates. “God made you to be a blessing,” his single mom reminded him daily. “Look for the one in a million God has set apart for you to bless.”
This day was his first day as a chaplain and Dilbert was the first one God had set aside for him. Without a word, he held the fledgling in his cupped hands and rested them on Dilbert’s knees. Dilbert stared. First, at the bird, and then at the face of the rescuer.
Jamey smiled. Surgery had repaired his lips significantly but not enough to cover up the obvious. Dilbert looked him in the eyes and gave his own crooked smile in return.
“What’s your name, son?”
“Dilbert, see this bird? God is holding you just like I’m holding him. He loves you so much.”
Dilbert stared at the bird and a tear trickled from his eye.
“Would you like to hold the bird?”
Jamey carefully drew Dilbert’s hands into a cup within his own hands – the bird cuddled in between them both. “Dilbert, Jesus said that God has you in his hands and no one can take you out of those hands. In his hands, there is peace and hope.”
Dilbert nodded and said one word, “come.”
Jamey held the bird and followed Dilbert as one finger worked the lever to power the wheelchair down the hallway to Dilbert’s room. The first glimpse was amazing. Birds of all kinds mingled with hockey players – predominantly Sidney Crosby.
“Pray with me,” Dilbert said. “Pray for Sid. He’s not doing so well. We need to be a blessing to him.”
Tears flowed together.
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