Key Thoughts

I Hope You Dance

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Nearly 150,000 people die each day around the world. On Wednesday Aug. 19, 2020 one of them was Hudson.

He was 6 years old and lived across the street from us. My wife and I have known him almost his entire life and strange as it may sound to have a 60-year-old man say this, Hudson was someone that I looked up to.

Some of you might know of him through the pages of this newspaper (“3-Year-Old Boy has Rare Disease and Hope,” Jan. 2017). Some of you who used to attend the Friday evening Blend Wine Shop wine tastings might remember him as the boy we raised funds for the same month the article came out. I know many of you were touched by his story because you gave generously.

Hudson was born with a rare disease. I won’t go into all the details; you can read about it for yourself. What I do want to talk about is Hudson himself.

It seems to be somewhat cliché to talk about and remember only the good in those who have departed. But Hudson was exceptional. I’m sure he behaved like any other 6-year-old at times, but I never saw that side of him. Whenever I encountered him, he was smiling ear to ear, just happy to be alive — happy to see me.

Hudson lived in a wheelchair because his muscles weren’t strong enough to support his body weight, but he didn’t let that stop him. I will miss walking out our front door to see him riding around his driveway across the street. He never failed to wave and call out “Hello, Rob!”

His mother, Sara, recently told me that they were playing a while back and he was pretending to be somewhere else so she asked him where he was and he answered “I’m across the street making beer with Rob!” (His father and I both enjoy homebrewing).

Hudson was undergoing treatment and would often have to spend long periods of time away with his mother, most recently over three months in San Diego. Our street seemed too quiet anytime he was away.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hudson’s whole household locked down as much as possible. He was more susceptible than most to the virus. Relatives and friends were able to see Hudson through the large picture window at the front of his house. He would beam from ear to ear every time someone knocked on it and waved.

Hudson lived his life in a wheelchair but that didn’t stop him from dancing. He would move around in time to the music, moving back and forth as much as the confines of his wheelchair allowed.

I rarely, if ever, dance. Maybe that’s one of the lessons that I should be learning from Hudson.

I don’t live with a physical disability. I do, however, live with a disability that limits the vision I have of my life. I tend not to notice or appreciate what I have, all too often focusing on what I don’t. I complain because I can’t do this or that for whatever reason.

I want to be more like Hudson and smile broadly every time I see someone I know. I want them to know I’m glad to see them. I want to enjoy life the way he did. I want to dance more.

Hudson may no longer beam at me from his driveway or a window across the street, but whenever I look across at the house where he spent most of his life, I will remember to try to be more like him.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to put some music on and dance.

Rob Vajko lives near Wauna.