"We have no choice of what color we're born or who our parents are or whether we're rich or poor. What we do have is some choice over what we make of our lives once we're here." Mildred Taylor, author
In the early morning hours of July 5, 2010, my nephew, Kurt William Baker was born into the world. His arrival was long-awaited and his parents were joyous and relieved that his mortal journey had begun. Little Kurt looked perfect, a chubby baby ready to join his siblings at home. But his parents and doctors already knew that despite his appearance, his body was not perfect, not on the inside. At only 20 weeks gestation, a routine ultrasound discovered a serious problem inside his little body. The condition, known as congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation (CCAM), caused a tumor to grow until it pushed on his heart and covered an entire lobe of his lungs.
|Kurt and his mom, after Kurt's first surgery|
Within months of his birth, doctors discovered another problem; one of Kurt’s kidneys was failing. A dilated ureter prevented flow of urine out of his kidney, and it was slowly dying. Surgery for the removal of the tumor was postponed so a procedure could first be done on the potentially life-threatening condition with his kidney.
Young Kurt has since had multiple surgeries, doctors appointments, endless tests and additional challenges. His growth is slow and some of his features resemble those of a little person. Yet, there is still no diagnosis and the actual medical conditions that first threatened Kurt’s life have no identifiable source. They are not caused from a genetic disease, nor are they the result of improper diet, activity or the intake of harmful substances before he was born.
Sometimes conditions exist in our lives that are out of our control, and certainly not of our choosing. Before he even entered the world, Kurt was already set on his own unique path in life.
So what is Kurt's path? Long-term, I cannot say for sure. But this little boy, and the beautiful family he was born into, always makes the very best of every moment. Let me share one such moment with you.
|Kurt Baker, 2015|
In February, 2013, when Kurt was 2 1/2 years old, his family sat aboard a 757 airliner, anxious to arrive in the land of Aloha, where our whole family was meeting for a family reunion and farewell of sorts. Kurt needed the restroom, so he hopped out of his seat and started the walk through the too-close-for-comfort aisle to the rear of the airplane.
My family and I sat several rows behind Kurt's family so I saw him as he ambled toward the back with a family member. As he approached, I put my hand up in the air and he high-fived me as he walked by.
But Kurt did not drop his hand after he passed me - he kept it up, silently inviting high-fives from the next 30 rows of passengers.
Every single person near the aisle responded and high-fived Kurt as he walked by.
Minutes later, he walked back toward his seat,
hand up again, and that time,
even passengers in the middle seats leaned over to reach, anxious to put their
hands out to high-five the
little man coming through the aisle.
Hands together for Kurt, and for the good people who accepted and returned the love of a little boy who LIVES VIBRANTLY on his path. To me, Kurt will forever be, The Little Boy Who Could.