Walmart. The cereal aisle. I’m browsing a wall of colorful boxes.
I’m interrupted by the voice of a child. A kid is riding on the front of a buggy like Captain Ahab. His mother is driving. His father is following.
The kid is making airplane noises.
The child is small. His joints are bony. His skin is pale. He is bald. There is a half-moon-shaped scar on his scalp. Another scar travels down the back of his neck.
He jumps off the cart. His tennis shoes hit the floor hard.
“Can I buy EVERY kinda cereal?” he asks.
“You’re not going to feel like cereal after surgery,” his father says.
“Let’s wait until surgery’s over,” adds his mother. “Once you’re better, then you can have as many boxes as you want.”
The boy is younger than young. Barely out of toddlerhood. He looks sick. He stares at them and says:
“What if I’m dead after surgery?”
His remark is as sincere as April rain. And it brings hot water to my eyes.
His mother and father scoop him into their arms. I have to leave the aisle.
All of a sudden, I am in the produce section. I see a Mexican family. They are standing in a huddle, speaking rapid-fire.
The youngest girl—ten years old maybe—is teaching two adult women to speak English.
The girl holds an onion toward them.
“UN-yun,” she says.
They adults say, “OWN-YOAN.”
The girl laughs. The women laugh.
I’m still thinking about the kid.
The checkout line is long. There are only two cashiers open.
As it happens, I am a few shopping buggies behind the boy with the scar.
And the people of Walmart become invisible. So do the boy’s parents, the cashier, and the folks in line. I can’t see any.
I only see him.
The boy and I make eye-contact for a brief moment. It’s not long, but just enough for him to smile at me. I smile back.
His eyes are blue. He seems like the happiest creature God ever made. And it makes me proud, somehow. I wish I could take his sickness from him.
When he and his parents leave through the double doors, he’s holding his father’s and mother’s hands.
I can still see those blue eyes in my mind. You can tell a lot about a person by their eyes. His were large, expressive. They became squints when he smiled. He’s a good kid. I can tell.
I’m thinking about things. I’m thinking about life itself. How precious it is. How brief. Unpredictable. How good.
Life is good.
I try to never disagree with people in public, but I would disagree with any man who doesn’t think life is good. Because it is.
Family is good. Dogs are good, mothers are good, daddies are good. Sunsets, ice cream, screened porches, handwritten letters, wives, rainstorms over hayfields, toys in cereal boxes, striped bass, and Mexican families who help each other speak English.
It’s all so beautiful that it hurts.
I’m lucky. I really am. God, please, don’t let me ever forget that boy.
Let that child’s surgery go well.
Connie Griggs - October 5, 2017 1:12 pm
I have immediately prayed for him. God bless this precious child!
Mike - October 5, 2017 1:15 pm
Thank you Sean. Thank you.
Molly Pinkston - October 5, 2017 1:16 pm
You make us stop, think and smile! Life is good!! Prayers for “blue eyes”!?
LeAnne Storey - October 5, 2017 1:18 pm
You are the best Sean! I’m praying for him too!
Jovita - October 5, 2017 1:23 pm
Amen to that Brother
Virginia Watson Snell - October 5, 2017 1:35 pm
The world truly is a beautuful, wonderful place. We only have to look with our eyes and heart. Thank you for sharing with us readers. I look so forward to reading your posts each morning. May God keep blessing you.
Summer Hartzog - October 5, 2017 1:45 pm
Praying for that little boy and for our friend and neighbor who delivered our youngest child and for my cousin and first best friend, all fighting the same fight, facing the same uncertainties today. But aren’t we all, really? Life IS good. It’s just too short for too many. That’s why it’s so very important to know there is good all around us. Thank you for finding the good, Sean – even in Walmart with only two checkouts open – and sharing it with those of us who forget to look for it. God bless.
Nina Thompson - October 5, 2017 2:23 pm
Praying for the blue eyed boy who squints when smiles….and for his mama and daddy who love him so much…..and for the red bearded writer who introduced them to all of us.
Connie - October 5, 2017 2:30 pm
Praying for that baby. Thank you for bringing him to the rest of us.
Janet Mary Lee - October 5, 2017 3:23 pm
Prayers for those families. Prayer changes everything… even when we do not see it! One for you and yours, too, Sean!!
yaya1952 - October 5, 2017 3:40 pm
This touched my heart today…saying prayers for that family. God is good!
Suzette Allen - October 5, 2017 4:06 pm
Jan - October 5, 2017 4:17 pm
I am so very thankful that you see people and things …really see them, not just with your eyes but with your heart. That is a very special gift and I appreciate you sharing it with us!
Juanita Ruth One - October 5, 2017 5:23 pm
I totally agree. Sean sees with his heart and we are so blessed that he shares his visions with us!
Jack Quanstrum - October 5, 2017 4:44 pm
Praying for that boy right now. Thank you Sean for writing this story. Life’s is good and is fleeting. Peace be with that boy and you Sean. Shalom!
David Jones - October 5, 2017 4:47 pm
I will pray for that boy. And you. And everyone else
Sandra Marrar - October 5, 2017 4:59 pm
God bless that little boy, his parents, the little girl teaches those ladies English and you. God bless you for writing about everyday life and all the good there is.
Truman Ingram - October 5, 2017 5:03 pm
I sell Utility Trucks for a living and I travel a lot. I’m in the ATL airport right now on the way home. I read your post everyday and I want to thank you. You help me to remember to give my wife an extra kiss, hug my girls a little tighter and throw the ball for my dog for a few minutes longer.
Pat - October 5, 2017 5:55 pm
I will be praying for the unnamed blue eyed boy. Rest assured Sean that your meeting and your brief eye contact with blue eyes was no coincidence.
Laura - October 5, 2017 8:25 pm
As a nurse, I never could work Peds more than a day or so. The eyes told the fear and pain and innocence all rolled together. I also have seen in the eyes of many adults the truth of their pain or fear despite what their mouth might say) and I have seen peace and joy, too. I think the eyes do not lie?
Tom Williamson - October 6, 2017 1:45 am
Amen, pediatric nurses and pediatric oncologists are a special group of people. God bless them all.
just another s-a-h-mother - October 5, 2017 8:48 pm
Sarah Massey - October 5, 2017 11:42 pm
I hope he gets to eat all the cereal all the time.
Debra Martin - October 5, 2017 11:43 pm
Marion - October 6, 2017 1:10 am
Prayers for the little blue-eyed boy and all children facing health issues. Prayers for the little Mexican girl trying to teach English to her family and to all trying to learn a new language in a new country. Prayers that all of us open our eyes and truly see our world and learn to help and encourage others. Love is what we all need.
Tom - October 6, 2017 1:29 am
As a parent of a child that battled childhood cancer, please pray for the parents of the boy. Childhood cancer changes their lives forever too. Thank you for your stories, you have a great gift
muthahun - October 6, 2017 1:58 am
Michael Hawke - October 6, 2017 2:07 am
Wendy - October 6, 2017 6:31 am
I’m praying for the child with beautiful blue eyes and his parents. Both of my 2 children are fighting their own battles right now. Their parents are earnestly praying for them, all throughout the days. May God continue to strengthen all loved ones, and Sean for bringing us true stories from his heart.
Gayle Dawkins - October 6, 2017 1:27 pm
Linda Chipman - October 6, 2017 9:11 pm
I love the way you say so much using so few words. Very good one today!
Sue Cronkite - October 6, 2017 11:46 pm
I’m saying a prayer for the blue-eyed boy’s surgery to be what he needs to cure him. The world needs smiling, happy children.
Thanks for posting.
Kathy Burgess - October 10, 2017 5:45 am
You have such a tender, kind, and loving heart. I thank God for making you that way, and giving you the gift of writing so you can share your heart with us. It strengthens my hope in humanity.
Marlene - October 21, 2017 3:57 am
“It’s all so beautiful that it hurts.” Truth. And I respond with my favorite prayer: “God, make us truly grateful.”
Katy - November 9, 2017 6:05 pm
Yes, Sean, life IS good. Even when it is bad it is good.
Gloria - November 13, 2017 4:02 am
Praying all went well for little “Blue Eyes”..thank you so much for reminding us of what is really precious, Sean
Wanda Jewell - March 2, 2018 3:09 pm
“Old dogs and children and watermelon wine.” Tom T. Hall
Jody - March 2, 2018 11:24 pm
Thank you for being blessed in seeing the good in people. ???
Linda - March 3, 2018 4:15 am
Sean for just a day or maybe two, I wish I could view the world through your eyes! I sometimes miss the little nuances, so I am so glad to have you as a seer, that expresses this so well!
Steve Winfield (Gus) - January 22, 2020 2:28 am
Amen. God be with him & his family. Help him overcome this.
Gigi - January 22, 2020 4:59 am
I’d buy him all the cereal he wants today!
KT - January 22, 2020 11:16 am
I believe he’s got a head full of thick, beautiful hair today, and has discovered blueberry pancakes, but he still loves cereal. I believe his parents are thankful. I believe.
Ann - January 22, 2020 12:45 pm
looking around is good “ seeing” is priceless 🙏🏻Thank you Sean!
Alesia - January 22, 2020 1:32 pm
Praying for Blue Eyes may the hand of God be on the beautiful boy! Thank you for reminding me.