“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”
This week was contest week at the newspaper, and I have to admit I’m running on fumes.
For those who aren’t in the know, The Democrat enters the Tennessee Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest each year, and Friday was the deadline to enter. I should be used to deadlines by now, but the contest deadline just seems to rare up and bite me in the pants nearly every time.
To the delight of many I’m sure, this column won’t be as lengthy as those in the past, but I hope the meaning is not lost in the brevity.
Amidst all the sleepless nights of turning The Democrat pages with fingers stained from ink, my wife showed me a Facebook photo that made me well up with tears of joy.
The photo was of a bald-headed little boy holding a sign that read, “April of 2013 I was diagnosed with a Class 4 brain cancer. February 20, 2014 I am CANCER FREE!”
It was signed “Bobby ‘Pirate Bob’ Harris” with the words, “Strong Enough” at the bottom.
What you have to understand is Bobby is not supposed to be here, or at least, he’s supposed to be lying on his death bed. He’s not supposed to be this child who brightens a room with his smile or likes pirates so much that he gets his own swashbuckling nickname.
Or so they say?
I first came into contact with Bobby and his brother, Johnny, when Rock Center with Brian Williams decided to come to Castle Heights Elementary School to do a segment on the scores of twins there. That was after The Democrat – and don’t let anyone tell you differently – broke the story about the twins.
That was nearly a year ago in March. A month later, Bobby was diagnosed with this terrible brain cancer, and all the doctors were telling the family to prepare for the worst.
I got to know John Harris, Bobby’s dad, through a mutual friend and through the outpouring of community support for Bobby in the past year. Every time any of the Felkins heard about a Pirate Bob fundraiser, we’d try our best to be there or at least support it.
John Harris and I had a lengthy conversation a few months back at a first-grade birthday party. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail, but trust me, the things I heard were unexplainable.
Well actually they’re not if you believe and trust in God.
So sitting there in my living room earlier this week, amid all the things I call problems in my life, there was this overwhelming sense of peace. All I could do was smile and know God was in control.
And that’s good enough for me.
The headline of this column speaks volumes, but I’m not too sure Bobby’s latest feat is already pretty outstanding.
I say, try to top that. Want to make a bet he does?
Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins.