Clark was a cool kid. He had a bald head, brown eyes, and a nice smile. Clark was not his real name. But they said he liked Superman. So “Clark Kent” it is.
Before Clark lost his hair, he had a head of blue-black, just like the superhero.
When his parents found out he was sick, it nearly knocked the life out of them. But they say Clark didn’t get bothered by it. Nobody knows why. Maybe he was too young to be afraid.
Maybe he was made of steel.
Anyway, I don’t know much about pediatric oncology, but his diagnosis was bad. His mother called it a “death sentence.” His doctors were not hopeful.
But that’s not the story here.
One afternoon, on their way home from a medical appointment Clark saw a man walking the shoulder of the highway. He was near an overpass.
The man was dark-skinned, with white hair, holding the waist of his blue jeans to keep them from falling.
“Stop Mom!” said Clark.
His mother stopped the car. Clark rolled the window down and asked the man why he was holding his pants like that.
“Lost my belt,” the man said. “And these pants are too big.”
Then, the man asked Clark’s mother for money. That’s where she drew the line. She refused to give cash to a stranger. She rolled up the windows and drove.
“We can’t just leave him,” said Clark. “He needs our help.”
Clark begged his mother to give money. Her only response was “no.”
Her son finally convinced her to stop at Walmart. They bought a belt, some sweatpants, and a few T-shirts. Then, they bought a sandwich from Subway.
They found the man beneath the overpass again. Clark gave him a plastic bag full of goodies. The man was overcome.
So days turned into months. Clark was weak from treatment. He spent entire weeks in bed. He sat on the floor near the toilet a lot.
He didn’t feel like playing games on his phone. He didn’t feel like eating food. His skin got so pale it was almost translucent. He couldn’t do anything that involved much walking.
But Clark managed to do other things.
For example: he placed a large cardboard box at the entryway of his school last Christmas.
Clark sent an email asking his friends to donate toys to foster kids. I understand the school filled four boxes that Christmas.
In Clark’s spare time, he also colored pictures for patients in the oncology ward.
He would meet people, get to know them, then he’d draw special pictures. Pictures with inspiring phrases on the bottoms.
Phrases like: “You got this!” And: “You are going to win!” And: “You are stronger than you even know!”
Once, Clark was visiting with a woman who was receiving treatment in the recliner next to his. When Clark’s mother returned from a bathroom break, Clark was holding the woman’s hand. The older woman was crying.
Anyway, last year Clark fell asleep. His life was eleven years long, but it was over a hundred years wide.
It’s because of him that local foster kids had a few extra Christmas toys. It’s because of him that a handful oncology patients have colored pictures on their refrigerators. It’s because of him that you are reading this.
Clark’s mother was in traffic the other day. She saw a familiar man with dark skin and white hair. He was wearing sweatpants.
She went to the nearest bank ATM and withdrew three hundred dollars. She gave it to the man. Three hundred was all the machine would let her get. Otherwise, she would’ve given him more. In fact, she does this sort of thing a lot now.
Because Clark would’ve wanted it that way. Only, he’s not Clark anymore.
Mary - April 16, 2018 8:04 am
Gary - April 16, 2018 9:18 am
Look! Up in the Heavens. It’s Superman! The real Superman.
Dave conkle - April 16, 2018 9:30 am
Thanks Sean . This helped make my morning begin in a beautiful way
Sherry - April 16, 2018 9:46 am
Pam - April 16, 2018 11:39 am
I love waking up to your emails…. your stories are a great way to start my day, just wanted to Thank you, the way you write, tell stories is so real, evoking emotion, helps me realize and remember how great my little life is (even my “problems”) so, once again… Thank You Sean!
MeLaurence w church - April 16, 2018 11:48 am
Your stories really help me start off the day.
Thank You ?
Steve Welch - April 16, 2018 11:52 am
Damn you Sean. Once again I start my day crying into my pajamas. Thank you for putting my week in perspective. Here’s to the Superman potential in us all, once we put the fragility and uncertainty of life in perspective.
Jack Darnell - April 16, 2018 12:08 pm
Jo Ann - April 16, 2018 12:15 pm
Thank you, Sean. Thank you, Clark. Thank you, Clark’s parents.
Mark Miles - April 16, 2018 12:16 pm
Ya’ got .me to cry with that one. Thanks.
Marinan Brewer - April 16, 2018 12:18 pm
Keep these coming– loving the faily
Connie - April 16, 2018 12:49 pm
Everyday is better after I read your story, and I read it first thing with my cup a coffee. It’s like a dose of good feelings that nothing else can give you.? bless you and yours!
wgarysmith - April 16, 2018 1:26 pm
God Bless “Clark”, his parents and the other families dealing with similar challenges in life. God Bless you too Sean for sharing the stories that opens our eyes and puts our hearts and minds in the right place.
Beth Reed - April 16, 2018 2:11 pm
Ohhh this story is heartbreaking but so awesome as well. I know that “Superman” is looking down at his mom and just loving the way she is making a difference…. thanks for sharing. Beth
Jack Quanstrum - April 16, 2018 2:37 pm
Super sized story. Thank you for the inspirational focus!
Steven P Bailey - April 16, 2018 2:52 pm
Karen McPhail - April 16, 2018 3:09 pm
An awesome reminder to be good, do good and make every day count. ❤️
Jody - April 16, 2018 3:23 pm
Edna B. - April 16, 2018 3:34 pm
What a beautiful story to start my day with. God bless all the little super heroes and their families. Thank you Sean, hugs, Edna B.
Pamela McEachern - April 16, 2018 4:25 pm
Beautiful, I wish we could keep our hearts as true as a child’s..
Peace and Love from Birmingham
mortalkondek - April 16, 2018 4:31 pm
Can’t let them see me a work crying at my desk.
Sharon Allemang - April 16, 2018 6:32 pm
What a wonderful young man!! Would be so proud to have been his mom! I cried through the whole reading.. Touched me more than I can express.. Thanx!
Dianne Correll - April 16, 2018 7:04 pm
Beautiful! Blessings for this family.
Sue Cronkite - April 17, 2018 1:03 am
Blessings on Clark and Blessings on you for telling us about him.
Wendy Franks - April 17, 2018 1:44 am
I’m echoing all beautiful comments, but will write my own Thank you, Sean!
Michael Hawke - April 17, 2018 2:14 am
You are amazing. Thank you very much.
Sherry - April 17, 2018 2:40 pm
Thank you, Sean, for sharing your stories. I look forward to them every day – a little light in the midst of darkness.
Barbara Schweck - April 17, 2018 5:12 pm
Extra special story today to touch the heart. Because of your beautiful stories, I am on the daily lookout to help someone have a special day. To let someone know they are not alone and cared about. Thank you, Sean, for making me a better person.
Judy Riley - April 17, 2018 7:54 pm
Janet Mary Lee - April 18, 2018 4:12 pm
What a story, what a life! Blessings to his whole family, and you for sharing it!
Dolores S. Fort - April 20, 2018 6:41 am
Mary Ellen Hall - April 21, 2018 9:25 pm
An ABSOLUTE BEAUTIFUL STORY!! What an AMAZING, LOVING, YOUNG, PERSON CLARK was!!!
Sean, you did a BEAUTIFUL JOB writing this story, & remembering Clark’s mother’s “Superman!!”
THANK YOU for sharing this!!!?
Rae - June 22, 2018 10:58 am
Especially emotional because my 14 year old grandson is my Superman. Diagnosed in 2016 with TCell luekemia and will undergo treatments till may 2020. Like Clark, he seems to stay positive throughout. I’m so sorry that Clark lost his battle. Cancer is a big bullet.
I just discovered your writing and it puts my heart in a good place. Thank you for sharing.
Smitty - June 22, 2018 1:39 pm
We can all be Superman – or the hands and feet of Christ – if we try. Thanks, Sean, for the reminder.
Sam Seetin - June 22, 2018 10:06 pm
Up up and away not to Krypton but to the Beatific End…