What My World's Like

Make a wish…but don’t close your eyes



by Janeen M.

In the past few years, I haven’t made a wish that wasn’t focused on Janeen Anita. Besides the obvious birthday wish blowing my heart over candles over a yellow cake from jewel. On the day to day, it is “I wish I would close on this sale so I can buy some Crème La Mer” or “I wish that fly guy at Starbucks would turn around and see the flecks of gold sparkling in my brown eyes” or “I wish I can win the lottery and give a middle finger to everybody—and their mama too.”

But this past Saturday, I got to work on the front lines with Make-A-Wish Foundation and granted a wish to a ten-year-old boy named Chuck who was diagnosed with leukemia. I have been a volunteer with Make-A-Wish Foundation since April of this year—a volunteer wait list (one year!!!) and a background check later, I was selected and I knew it would be phenomenal.

I didn’t know that one Saturday afternoon, would give me so much perspective.

I woke up Saturday morning and my instinct was to roll over and sleep. I had two back-to-back nights that involved my friend Stella (last name Artios), Jose (last name Cuervo) and oldie but a goodie—Jack (last name Daniels) but he was good to me Friday night: he was a Gentleman. I’m being honest here, that’s my vice. I was exhausted from the spirits or what the Indians called—firewater. I am just trying to express I was in NO volunteer mood. I wanted to sleep but in my heart I knew I committed myself to this foundation. So I woke up and went.

But when I pulled up to Chuck’s apartment on the southeast side of Chicago, my heart could not stop beating. I felt this palpable sense of responsibility that I do my best to respond and be the person my mom raised me to be. I was walking to a perfect stranger’s house and I took for granted that I was wanted there. I assumed because I came in the name of charity, I was doing them (the foundation, not the family) a favor and you know what looking at the name on the buzzer…I was incredibly humbled…and nothing happened yet. I knew this would be a day I wouldn’t forget.

So I walk in and see the kid with his older brother. They were incredibly polite. I walked in the Chucks’s room. We were there to do a room makeover. I walked in and saw the room raw. I spent a lot of time in my room—mostly because my brother was seven years older and I wanted nothing to do with him. 🙂 I mean I’d be like, “YAY! I love ATCQ! —Wait, you still hate the fact I was born because I stole you from mommy. Okay then!” But the kid has leukemia and I knew he spent a lot of time in this room because sometimes he missed school because he was too sick to go to school. I spent time in my room listening to music and reading like a maniac by choice, not by force like this kid. So I decided I’d put my heart and soul in fixing this room.

We fixed up his room. I built his dresser! Go me! And I thought I was too dumb to assemble Ikea products. THANK (not think, THANK) AGAIN. The kid got a new bed, a new futon, a new desk, new carpet, new entertainment system, and new dresser. And apparently, he’s a huge wrestling fan (and the pop junkie I am kept thinking about “The Wrestler” with Mickey Rourke). The WWF came through so tough! His room looks like a wrestling room. The Undertaker and Triple H were everywhere—wall decals, stuffed animals, shirts, bedding, jewelry, and video games. Best Buy gave a free play station and TV to the kid.

I’ll wrap this up now. It felt amazing to watch that ten-year-old kid see his new space. If I could explain to you in person, his shock in awe—I would definitely cry. He was so happy. He couldn’t close his mouth! Just shocked. I felt this feeling of just pure humility that I have never felt before. He was so happy and he wouldn’t leave his room, not even for the pizza party we threw him. Think about it—if you haven’t already. He had that sense of gratitude I didn’t grasp until I was at least in my early 20’s.

He was really grateful and I was so happy to be a part of that experience for him and his grandmother—and extended family. Very grateful God brought me to that experience. I never felt such unconditional love from a stranger.

So in a nutshell—I was happy that I brought a smile to a young, beautiful black boy, because he is ripe in potential. I was happy that I got to be united with rich and poor, black and white, old and young to work for something for a child that was so deserving. I was grateful to learn in a very concrete way not to complain about life and silly things—when in reality this ten-year-old child might not arrive to my age. I was happy to see a black family—happy and grateful to God for all they had and not cracking when things got tough. I was grateful to God when I learned the boy’s cancer JUST when into remission and he can enjoy the gratitude that was bestowed upon him. And I was so grateful for the opportunity to see that people have a heart and want to help.

I know how it feels, in a limited capacity, to be threatened by the thought of losing someone you love so deeply to something that can come in someone’s body with such reckless abandon. It’s ugly. So the thought of that happening to a child rips me to my core. Children have such potential and us as adults—we have a responsibility to call and deliver to them. I know I am in a good spot because I had some many people that rallied up to tell me that they loved me and that people love me. These kids nowadays: maybe they will get that from President and First Lady Obama. Maybe they will get that from their mom and dad. But there is no maybe with me; I will do my small but well intentioned part to let little black boys and girls know they are special and that the graciousness of God has ordered their steps and everything in their future should be magnanimous and undeniable.

Bottom line: be grateful for EVERYTHING God/Life has given us. Be grateful for EVERYTHING you think you haven’t gotten. We have such magnitude to be great. You’re my friends and I hope you can teach me to better person–more than you have already (whether you know it or not) and I hope we can grow together as we get older! YAY! We have so much to give to the world, so let’s get it!

Janeen is sunny spirit with a warm smile. She lives off of music, laughter, and gratitude. She can be found in Chicago being “25 and Alive,” her motto for appreciatively embracing life to the fullest.

For more information on how to get involved with Make-A-Wish, go here.

2 Responses to Make a wish…but don’t close your eyes

  1. Hey, nice post, very well written. You should write more about this.

  2. Hey Mike. A reader actually wrote this one. I’ve been planning on featuring reader stories for a while now, and this was what really kicked it off for me. I knew it was perfect.

    If you have any stories, go to submit to share.

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