• Melissa Byrd

Happy Birthday Jensen Daniel Byrd - will you help us honor him?

April 7, 2005. Every time Jensen entered the hospital or clinic they would ask him his name and birthdate. I can still hear that sweet voice saying "I'm Jensen Daniel Byrd, April 7, 2005". He used the number 7 often. He wanted 7 cakes and 7 presents, at one time, he even told me he had 7 hearts! How fitting. I can envision them all being hearts of gold.

Jensen rarely asked for anything. He was never that kid that had to have a new toy every time he went in to a store. In fact, the only time I can recall a tantrum over a material object was when I wouldn't buy him the Super Mario Super Slugger Wii game. That day haunts me. It was not long before he died actually and at that time, we were still trying to live life as normal. We had no idea our time was so limited. There was always a fine line of wanting to give your sick child any and all things vs teaching them hard life lessons. He wound up getting that game in the mail within the next day or two, so there was some divine intervention, but I harbor so much guilt for not making him smile instead of cry that day.

Anyone that truly got to know him, knew that he was much more of a giver. He loved to buy things for other kids in treatment, and of course for his "big sissy". He almost always put them before himself, unless M&Ms or Cheetos were involved! Those, he did not like to share. Aside from defeating us all in Mario Karts, he took more pride in surprising others and bringing a smile to their face.

To honor Jensen on his birthday, each year I have asked that everyone do a random act of kindness. This year, times are a little different but it is not impossible. To modify this request to suit the times of "social distancing", I am asking that you set aside 15 minutes of your day on April 7th to bless someone with your undivided attention. Sit down with your spouse or kids or give a loved one or an old friend a call, maybe someone you don't speak to regularly. Engage in a meaningful and heartfelt conversation. Set aside the distractions of social media, internet, tv, etc. Truly listen to what they have to say, don't just listen to respond. Be fully present and attentive. This is something that we don't do enough and can be a difficult practice. Bring a smile to their face and make a memory that will last a lifetime.

If you feel compelled, maybe even share Jensen's story. Share with them why this day is special. Be a giver, not a taker. All parties involved will benefit. This is my birthday wish for the most precious forever 5 year old that will never blow out another candle here on earth, but will be celebrated for every year that I breathe.

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