I shop at our neighborhood Whole Foods Market probably once a week. Every so often, I bump into part-time employee/full time student Will.
Will is very tall (I am not) and has reached many a high shelf for me over the last couple of years. He is invariably pleasant and very helpful. We’ve chatted about all sorts of things – the best frozen raviolis, if Greek yogurt should come in 0% fat, dogs treats for training. Will is knowledgeable, intuitive and is always up for an adventure like the time we went on a storewide hunt for Moroccan curry paste.
So why am I telling you about Will? Thing is, I found out something the other day that took me quite by surprise – Will has Crohn’s disease. He was diagnosed at 14 years old. He suffers from flare-ups and stomach pain, stays away from nuts and popcorn, manages his IBD with a cocktail of medications, has tired days and not so tired ones.
Why, I wondered, was I surprised? Do I unconsciously think that children with this disease can’t grow up to be intelligent, thoughtful, engaging, productive adults? I admit that, thinking about the myriad of struggles children with IBD face, I do wonder how a child with IBD can come to live a full life alongside their disease. But time and again, I have been amazed by the courage and determination shown by children living with this often very serious illness. They play sports, do well in school, volunteer, go on semesters abroad. Maybe having to face very serious realities well before their peers helps them to learn the life lesson that where there’s a will there’s a way. Thanks Will, for reminding me of the wonderful adults kids with IBD can grow to be.