This is a great question. It is full of hope and possibilities. As I walked past a little girl about 8 years old at the mall yesterday, I overheard an older man asking her, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” She began to reply and I didn’t hear what she said. Partly because I would have looked really creepy hanging out and listening, because there was nothing nearby I could pretend to be looking at to eavesdrop. Mostly though, I didn’t need to know the answer. That question made me stop and smile to myself, and that was enough. Because I thought to myself, if someone asked Gavin that today, if he were that child in the mall, he could answer it.
There was a time when that question was asked to a child that was dying. I would bite my lip and hold my breath, trying to signal to the person asking. Yet he still answered it because in his heart, he knew something the world didn’t. Despite the words spoken by his doctors, that time was running out, he believed he would grow up. For Gavin, I suppose that question meant the same to the little girl in the mall. He could imagine his future. But for me, his mother, who felt the hope draining, it was like a knife stabbing me deeply, reminding me that he won’t grow up. A simple question that brought me to reality and made breathing difficult because we had no cure.
Now that Gavin is out of treatment, for now and hopefully forever, I hope he gets asked this question every day. I will stand proudly next to him and smile at his list of things he wants to do when he grows up. Live in a mansion (good luck buddy), have ten kids (ummm, ask your wife about that), be a marine biologist by day, and get a second job if needed to support all of the kids. I will listen, knowing most of it isn’t likely, but always encouraging him to keep dreaming and pursue what he wants in this life. Because he worked really hard for it. Dream away buddy.