On our last day in Orlando, Makenna and I found ourselves wandering into Element – a store on Citywalk.
We were acting like dinosaurs and making complete fools of ourselves. But, we were having a good time and probably two of the happiest people in the world.
We became friends with one of the employes, Kori. We talked to him a little bit, and even let him try on our hats. We told him about 1 Million 4 Anna and how now that Makenna is finished with treatment, we are taking time off from school and celebrating life. He smiled and told us that our story meant a lot to him, but we didn’t go further into why.
We left the store and continued on our way.
Two weeks later, Makenna and I found ourselves back in Orlando and back at Universal Studios. We decided to stop by Element again for old times sake. Kori was working and we talked for what seemed like hours about the most ridiculous things. He ended up going to Rocco’s Tacos with Makenna and I for dinner. We spent the night dancing and making friends with everyone in the restaurant – including the guy that makes the table side guacamole.
The next day, Makenna and I were headed to North Carolina to visit Kenna’s cousin. Kori wasn’t feeling well, so we stopped by to check on him and say our farewells before hitting the road.
Right before we left, he told us why our story meant so much to him. Two years ago his dad was diagnosed with Lymphoma. He went to treatments with his dad and watched him struggle through chemo. My heart immediately sank into my chest. Watching anyone go through that is one of the hardest things you could do, and watching someone you love is a million times harder. He continued talking.. The day before Makenna and I wandered into the store, he found out that he might have Lymphoma as well. He decided that he wasn’t going to do treatment. My mind was literally blank, and Kenna and I had a difficult time explaining to him what we were thinking. He was strong. He could do it. We both knew…
We got on the road, and had funny feelings in our stomachs. It was probably the first time in weeks that we were both silent. We spent two nights in North Carolina and had a great time with Makenna’s cousin (who might I add, had an absolutely stunning house).
We were supposed to be headed to Nashville… because I wanted to look at Vanderbilt. However, while getting on the road, we got a call from Kori saying that he still wasn’t feeling well and was heading to the hospital. Immediately Makenna and I looked at one another and decided to head South, instead of West. We got to Orlando pretty late and spent the night with him at the hospital. He was feeling a bit better, and it turned out the infection was unrelated to the Lymphoma scare. But, the doctor still needed to run the tests that Kori had decided to ignore – he wouldn’t get the results for another five days.
(And, as of yesterday, the results came back good – false positive)
We left Orlando, yet again, and this time instead of silence, we talked. We talked about how strange it was how the past few days had unfolded. Kori, a person we barely knew, had changed our lives.
Because while Makenna and I were focussing on us – being silly and not caring what other people thought – we made an impression on a stranger. An impression that inadvertently could have saved his life. We explained to him why we were simply celebrating life after having accomplished the very thing he was afraid of… chemo. Making him see the other side of it and rethinking his decision.
It makes you think… how many people’s lives are you affecting that you don’t even know?
I may not always be at my best, but I will say this… Because of that moment – because of Kori – I will always keep those who surround me in mind. I will smile to strangers more and hold the door open, even when they still have a few more steps to walk. I will have absolutely no idea what the person in front of my in line at the grocery store has going on in their lives, but I will do my best to make their days just a little bit brighter.