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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. November's Theme: "Faith"
Volume 3 Issue 1 ISSN# 1708-3265

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My friend, Bobby
by David Reber

I would like you to meet Bobby. Bobby's fourteenth birthday is next week and he has only spoken three times in his entire life. Bobby deeply touched my heart the day he smiled and waved while quite clearly saying, "Bye Dave!" I was not much good the rest of that day, I can tell you! You see, Bobby is severely autistic, and has cerebral palsy.

These two conditions combined offered a number of side symptoms too. For one, because Bobby often could not feed himself, his parents fed him through an implanted tube that stuck out of his abdomen. Because of this type of diet, he's perhaps forty pounds under weight with the physique of an eight year old, quite under developed. On top of all this, he's medicated for recurring seizures and was often brought down by something like a cold or flu that you or I would easily shrug off.

Notice one very key thing, in all of the impediments above I never once said that Bobby 'suffered' from anything. To be quite honest, he's the happiest child I've ever met, infectiously so in fact. His Daffy Duck laugh affected everyone around him.

I teach swimming out of my home, well the pool behind my home and Bobby'd been a student of mine for the past seven years. He's the most popular kid to ever grace my home. He's always so excited to come to class that apparently long before it was time, at home, he would take his dad by the hand and strongly tug, motioning toward the van. His dad would say something to the effect of, "Just hold on a minute mister, we still have twenty minutes," and Bobby would tug harder, vigorously shaking his head. Needless to say, this makes me feel incredibly good about myself and has bolstered my self-esteem on even my lowest days.

It's not just that though, Bobby is good for the soul of everyone around him. He shows up laughing, waving excitedly and all the little girls made a point to stop what they were doing, to wave, then yell, "Hi Bobby!!!" Bobby gave an emphatic wave back, often walking to them, taking each by the hand and giving a vigorous shake.

He loved the splashing of kids in the pool and they in turn pushed themselves harder to leap higher, splash bigger for the return of Bobby's excitement. For a particularly good splash he would rise up onto his toes and frantically wave both hands in the air while howling his delight.

Everyone would laugh and comment on what a great thing his excitement was, what a fun kid he was. Even the most straight-faced of the parents, the ones firmly entrenched in a trying day, found themselves grinning before long, the power of this tiny little boy brought people together, got them talking where they normally would not.

I have to really give him credit here; he brought me together with two of my favourite people in the whole world, his parents. I absolutely love his loud and obnoxiously assertive mother, and his dad has become my best friend. Were it not for Bobby, I never would have met them. If he could bring a couple of sullen, introverted, agoraphobic geeks like his dad and me together; he could truly work miracles.

Last night was Bobby's funeral. He had been suffering off and on for two weeks with a bacterial infection that left him fatally weak and dehydrated. Very early Labour Day morning he quite simply slipped away. It was during this time I discovered my faith in the power of an individual.

Shortly after the announcement of Bobby's passing, my phone began ringing. People that only knew him in passing were devastated. I was genuinely touched by their need to console me, and more importantly, they needed to know how to get in touch with Bobby's parents to let them know he'd moved each of them.

The place of the funeral was filled to capacity with those lives Bobby touched; it was an impressive cross-section of our community. All of his therapists and teachers were there, as well many upon many others. The funeral director was out of his depth with the throng that showed to share how Bobby added to their lives. I was absolutely awe-struck that a single little boy who spent much of his time in his own little world, who only occasionally came out to take a hand, laugh with someone, or daringly fly raspberries past broadly grinning cheeks, could have so profoundly reached so many.

A bit of wisdom came out of a conversation I had when relating all this to a friend. She said that it was quite possible the sole reason a person was on this earth was to bring others together and give joy to people around them. Bobby definitely did that well; his job was done. A story I heard during the services left me sure this was exactly the case.

His grandparents told me that when they were driving to the hospital after they first got the news of Bobby's passing they both saw an incredibly intense shooting star, trailing sparkling white light behind it as it dropped directly toward the hospital. Bobby's grandmother cried when she told me she just knew it was Bobby's own, personal angel coming to take him home. I do not doubt that is exactly what they saw.

Bobby…Thank you for my faith… I miss you…

Hello, my name is David Reber and I currently reside in Northern Indiana. Aside from my day job of working with children, I enjoy the seclusion of my little white home in the woods. There I am afforded the quiet comfort to pursue a bit of archery and fishing along with the occasional hack attempt at writing.

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