Steam and smoke billow from the old steam engine as it chugs up along the rails of the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad in southern Pennsylvania. Today, this train means much more to a boy than most of us can ever imagine.
This is Liam’s train-themed birthday party – his one true wish he asked for when Make-A-Wish first met with him. And Liam’s party is much more than a celebration of his birthday.
Liam was diagnosed with Wilms tumor – a two-pound mass in his stomach – almost two years ago, before the trains, before the treatments, and before Liam’s life would be changed forever.
Back then Liam was a shy kid, angry and scared for what the future held for him. The illness froze his life, clouding it with worry and uncertainty. At the time, no one even knew if Liam was ever going to come home from the hospital.
But today, just as the train chugs along the track, Liam pushes forward into his bright future. He can say with pride, “I beat cancer!”
Horns blow and the trains hiss in the background. The children eat candy and ice cream while they watch the magician perform his tricks, Liam’s favorite part of the day. This is a day for Liam to celebrate. It is a day in which his bright, contagious smile can come out from hiding. His true self comes through once again. This is a day to put the past where it belongs, and to move forward into the future.
Liam looks over at his mom as the sun sets on the clanking train yard and says with a smile, “Mom, the sky is blue and the birds are singing, isn’t it a beautiful day?”