There is a picture on our fridge of Noah’s (my 10 year old) close friend Eli that makes me smile.
The two of them hit it off quite well since the first time they met. That is except for the first few minutes or so that we introduced them. Apparently, we had not fully explained to Noah that Eli’s Cerebral Palsy was not, in fact, a contagious disorder. As soon as we set the record straight, the two of them were pretty much inseparable when Eli visited.
In addition to a shared love for a certain character named Sponge Bob Square Pants, they both had the same sense of humor. I delighted in entertaining them with spontaneous songs about subjects that only a young boy would find humorous, much to my wife’s dismay. They were a great audience and their continual giggles and snorts only encouraged me.
It was so strange to see how Noah could carry on a conversation with Eli, who could not speak, as if there were nothing at all unusual about it. Eli’s random arm movements, radiant smile, and infectious laugh were a sort of language that they both understood.
If Noah was not standing up doing the dancing and running for them both, he was next to Eli’s chair in deep conversation or vacant observation of the guy who “lives in a pineapple under the sea”. It was one of these times that it struck me how much they looked alike, despite their obvious physical differences.
Noah, who sometimes does not make friends easily, had made an extraordinary one in Eli. He learned that a person’s value is not in their physical ability or lack thereof. He learned that “special” kids are still kids like him.
Unfortunately, Eli’s Dad had to move to another state and take Eli with him. Noah was sad, but always looked forward to hearing an update on his old chum. Noah is, if nothing else, a loyal friend. He appreciated a new picture of Eli having a birthday or just chilling out with some Sponge Bob.
Noah’s prayers always included one for Eli that God make him able to run and talk.
Today, through tears, I had to tell Noah that Eli is both running and talking with our Lord and Savior.
While we weep, we do not weep as those who have no hope.
Run In Peace little friend, until we meet again.