ZERO PLUS 1104 DAYS,--New York, NY, Monday,
September 20, 2004--Davey
is dying. He is almost eight years old and a brave and courageous
kid. On Sunday, the Angel of Death kissed the Angel of Life
in front of Davey. He didn't blink. In fact, he smiled.
Angel of Death kissed the Angel of Life in front of
Davey...and he smiled
was one of a few hundred watching Life and Death embrace the
body and spirit of the small, stout-hearted boy whose body
is wracked with leukemia.
has dealt Davey (not his real name) a tough hand. He's one
of 3,250 children each year afflicted with leukemia. Each
year, the disease adds 30,580 adults to its roles. Davey's
disease was diagnosed in May, 2001. Several blood drives for
bone marrow transplants were held for him by community and
family members. This wasn't a fund drive, this was a Spiritual
Drive, the collection of faith and belief in a boy's soul,
and the feeding of thirsty loved ones who needed to embrace
his zest for life and the message he renders to all who cross
survival rate is estimated by the National Cancer Institute
to be about 64.8 percent. But, based on Davey's medical problems
and his specific type of Leukemia, outside of a miracle, the
Angel of Death walks hand-in-hand with the Angel of Life throughout
each precious day of Davey's life.
why the ceremony this past Sunday was so vital to Davey's
life. It was about securing his soul on earth and beyond.
belongs to a strong Irish-Catholic family, with roots that
reach deep into the soil of his homeland far across the sea.
Community is a big part of Irish culture. So is belief.
receives the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation
after receiving special dispensation from the Catholic Bishop
of his diocese, Davey accelerated his destiny with Life and
Death by receiving his first Holy Communion, followed by the
sacrament of Confirmation. He had already been given the Sacrament
of the Sick, an annointing by a priest for the seriously ill.
was on the fast-track of spiritual strength.
normally would receive First Communion next spring with his
class in school and be Confirmed in the eighth grade. Under
Catholic doctrine, Baptism and Confirmation are 'Initiation
Sacraments': Baptism, according to the Church, helps one resist
temptation and avoid sin; Confirmation deepens the baptismal
gifts and adds additional "gifts" of the Holy Spirit
including Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge,
took the name of Saint Peregrine
is the custom in the Catholic Church to take a Saint's name
while being confirmed--a kind of "spiritual buddy"
you hold as a model for how you want to live. Davey chose
Saint Peregrine called "The Wonder Worker", the
patron saint of those who have cancer.
background of those who follow this saint include being cast
to sea and landing where ever the winds blow you. Then, as
a seed flying through the wind at random, the disciple of
the saint brings to others the message of faith.
is a lot like a seed of faith. He brings faith to the living
through his inevitable death, reminding everyone around him
how fragile life really is.
illness has ravaged most of his "normal life." Instead
of enjoying the fruits of youth, Davey's been in and out of
hospitals innumerable times, battling his "white blood"
Greek, the word "leukemia" means "white blood."
White blood cells--that normally are balanced to fight infections--become
abnormal Terrorist Cells. They attack healthy red blood cells,
virtually bullying them out of production. It is like having
Osama bin Laden inside a child's body, ravaging the child's
helps retard the growth of the abnormal White Cell Terrorists,
but in acute cases, little hope exists that the cancer will
is Davey's lot. He walks all 1440 minutes of each day on the
razor's edge of Life and Death.
is a true Sentinel of Vigilance wearing an ear-to-ear
smile ... and face paint
you wouldn't know it by Davey's attitude.
a true Sentinel of Cancer Vigilance. Despite the War On Cancer
Terrorism raging in his body, he thrusts his shoulders back,
walks with his own interpretation of John Travolta's Saturday
Fever strut, and when you talk to him, he breaks into an ear-to-ear
smile that melts every pore in your body. He finds happiness
and joy despite a world filled with rife.
a breath of fresh air when it comes to winning the war on
Terrorism. He's the unsung hero of Terrorism.
are full of news about heroes battling the physical War On
Terrorism in Iraq, the World Trade Center and various parts
of the globe.
is rarely reported is the fact there are 187,285 Soldiers
of Leukemia Vigilance walking the soil of this nation, each
of whom daily battle the deadly disease with an aplomb that
defies anyone facing a Terrorist firing squad or about to
have his or head decapitated.
represents a small percentage of the nearly 200,000 who are
affliced. He is in the elite category--the Children of Leukemia.
And, these Children of Leukemia have a message for the rest
of the world--Enjoy Life To The Fullest. Fear not!
like Davey know they are about to die. But more importantly,
they know they are alive.
are living in the NOW of the gift of life, not worrying about
the future and its uncertainties.
they are afraid of death, they show no signs of it. They defy
Terrorism's purpose of injecting Fear, Intimidation and Complacency
in its victims and loved ones. Instead, the Leukemia Kids
of Vigilance stand up to the Bully of Cancer Terrorism by
living life to the fullest, with more fearlessness than one
were performed at St. Columba Church in Chester, New
was one example.
went to the Church of Saint Columba in his home town of Chester,
New York to strenthen the shield of his soul.
him was a bulging congregation of friends, relatives and family
to witness his First Communion. Some secretely wondered if
it would be his first and last. The vast majority prayed that
Davey would have many communions, however, reality barks that
Davey's days on earth are numbered.
Thomas J. Curley conducted Davey's First Communion ceremonies.
In his homily, Fr. Curley reminded everyone that life was
fragile, and reminded the attendees that Davey symbolizes
how to live the "gift of life." He told the story
behind Davey's saint's name, Saint Peregrine, and reminded
the members of the parish they were "seeds" too,
whose primary mission was to go forth and bring the joys of
life and living to those whose souls might be numbed or deadened
by the Terrorism's of Life.
spoke about how we are simply visitors on earth, and that
we have a mission to build the world stronger and safer for
future generations. Davey has become for him, he noted, an
example of human bravery, and a reminder that we must never
forget to live in the fertile richness of each and every of
the 1440 minutes we are given each day.
a way, Davey is very much like the people who died on Nine
Eleven. The slogan: "Never Forget" applies to Davey
as well as the nearly 3,000 who died on September 11, 2001,
so that we might appreciate life, and find ways to live it
with greater peace and security.
priest performed the ceremony of offering Davey his First
Communion. He following it with Confirmation usually given
to "mature Christians." Despite his youth, Davey
is far more spiritually mature than most of the people watching
him enter the "official halls of the Church".
receiving his First Communion
related to the accelerated ceremonial rites of Davey being
rushed through the steps of becoming a "full member"
because of the looming face of death. I had been Davey once.
I was on my way to Vietnam as a U.S. Marine in the first wave
that landed in that country over three decades ago, I had
not designated any religion. I was either an agnostic or an
atheist, or simply an egotist who believed life and death
was just a matter of breathing or not breathing. Whether there
was any afterlife was not an issue with me.
had never been baptized into any religion, and, because of
a troubled childhood, had little faith in any Higher Power.
as I approached the Jaws of Death, I began to wonder: "What
if there was something eternal after life?" I also was
fearful of dying without a body bag. I had heard that they
placed all the bodies in bags by religious preference. Catholics,
Methodists, Jews, Buddhist, Muslims, etc. got the first wave
of bags so they could be stacked and then blessed by their
respective priests, ministers or rabbis.
Preferences', which I was, may not get a body bag if everyone
ahead of me had a religious preference and I didn't.
thought of dying naked without a body bag frightened me more
than death itself.
took an accelerated course on becoming a Catholic. When you
are about to face death, the Church allows certain short cuts.
I wasn't interested so much in saving my soul as I was dying
and having a body bag. I know this isn't very spiritual, but
is the truth.
my own reception of the Sacrements, In my own way, I
am a brother to Davey
a fast track to become a Catholic, I chose to place the Angels
of Death and Life on both my shoulders--just in case.
my own way, I am a brother to Davey. We both "rushed"
our First Communions because we were both walking into the
Face of Death. The difference was Davey is almost eight and
I was twentytwo when I chose to become what I term, "A
Body Bag Catholic." There
is another big difference.
is surrounded by Sentinels of Vigilance. Hundreds of family
members, friends and loved ones surged around Davey yesterday.
were the living supporting the Child of Death and Life.
thought of the Principles of Vigilance, and how we all must
make a vow to fight the Beast of Terror in all his nefarious
forms. One of those forms is, of course, cancer. Cancer Terrorizes
the human body from within. It is far more devastating than
any blowing up of a Twin Towers, or bombings in Baghdad.
know. I had colon cancer and live as a survivor, knowing that
at any moment one of those cancer cells rattling around in
my body can come to deadly life and cripple my body until
death suffocates life.
wife is also a cancer survivor. She survived breast cancer
and battles two other types. We know that each moment is precious,
and sometimes forget that by wallowing in our selfish concerns
about not having enough of this or that, or wanting more,
or wishing we had...when, in fact, life itself is the greatest
of all gifts.
followed Davey around with my digital camera and captured
his Sentinel of Vigilance Spirit. Each time I took a picture,
I knew I was capturing a piece of his soul, and repairing
those scars on my own when I slip into Terrorism's quagmire
of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency that makes me wonder
why life has treated me unfairly and yet others around me
appear to have or do or enjoy so many of the "riches"
of life I don't have.
was a flood of friends, young and old, to celebrate
his Spiritual and Physical life and...
reminds me this kind of thinking is nothing more than selfishness,
self-pity, self-aggrandizement. As Davey strutted about, I
saw him not as a small, bald, almost-eight-year-old boy, but
as a giant human being, throbbing with courageous life.
flood of friends and relatives there to celebrate his Spiritual
Life along with his Physical Life were feeding off him as
I was. They saw his Courage, Conviction and Right Actions
for Future Generations beam as though we were all ships in
the fog searching for the harbor.
he smiles, the sorrow of the soul was cast bright with the
seeds of life. I felt my own insides glow.
with relatives and loved ones witnessed Davey's Courage,
Conviction, and Right Actions in his house of love and
before going to the Church, I had been at Davey's house and
watched him take his chemotherapy medicine. There were two
vials on the table, loaded with anti-cancer liquids that would
give him strength to sustain the war of Cellular Terror. I
watched him take it.
wondered why each day I don't consume something to battle
my Beast of Terror. Then I realized that I do. I take the
Pledge of Vigilance. I make a vow to try my best to stand
above the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency that tries to
destroy my Vigilance Immune System and render me into a state
of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
had Spider Man to do that for him. Spider Man is his 'main
also took a long ride on a Harley with some of his father's
dad is a New York City police sergeant. Many of his friends
are cops. They were there in force with their wives and children.
blew up a balloon of his favorite hero, Spiderman
family is large. His father has three brothers and three sisters,
a total of seven kids plus all their children.
were clowns blowing up balloons, painting faces--even Batman
showed up on a motorcycle to say hello to Davey.
favorite, Batman rode his bat-cycle to the joyful event
knew that there were many in the crowd who had given up on
life, believed life was a rut, and the difference between
a rut and grave is only the depth.
is Terrorism's greatest victory. It is called Complacency.
It is when we feel we are "victims" of life, and
wish we had life to live over because we look back and see
all the pain and problems. We don't look at the "gift
of life" as such, in its rawest and most basic nature.
priest reminded us that "life was a gift," however
short it might be, and what we did with it today was the fruits
of the gift.
is living life. He carries the Angels of Life and Death on
his shoulders fearlessly.
I clicked the last picture of the day, I stood a little taller.
I became less afraid of the Angels of Death and more appreciative
of the Angels of Life roosting on my own shoulders.
knew that Davey is my Sentinel of Vigilance. He is my living
example. I have many Sentinels who are not of this earth any
longer. Some 3,000 of them hover above Ground Zero, the Spirits
of Vigilance I have long served.
is standing on the shoulders of life
I forgot to remember that there are Living Sentinels of Vigilance.
They are not ghosts or invisible, but standing right in front
is standing on the shoulders of life itself, telling everyone
to take the Pledge of Vigilance in his own way.
know he takes that Vow of Vigilance each day.
him to have the Courage, Conviction and take the Right Actions
he does each day to face the Angel of Death he carries around
was a herculean task, one that if an eight-year-old could
handle, so could I with all my "baggage."
Davey kiss the cheek of the Angel of Life and Death...and
we drove away, I looked over my shoulder at Davey staring
up at the towering figures of the adults around him.
knew he is as tall as the tallest. I knew that because I saw
him kiss the cheek of both the Angel of Life and Death, then
smile, wink and swagger through the maze of people with a
knowledge that far surpasses anything I can imagine.