When we grow up as young men, we develop bold and aspirational goals that will shape our future destiny. These can relate to both our personal and professional lives, whether you want to follow the time-honoured tradition of saving three months’ wages to buy your loved one an engagement ring or wish to build a business that will change the lives of millions.
Former forest ranger Edward Reis probably held many of these aspirations himself during his youth, before fate struck a cruel blow and left him suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). This aggressive illness left him bedridden, forcing him to leave his home and move into a hospice in Washington. Not only this, but the illness also changed his perspective on life, forcing him to realign his goals and expectations.
How the Snomish County Fire District Made a Dying Dream Come True
Gradually Reis’ condition became terminal, but this did little to dampen his spirit and love of the great outdoors. Passionate about the natural world, Reis discovered that he had an overwhelming desire to go outside just one more time, before his time came to pass. He shared this with a registered nurse by the name of Leigh Gardner, who was a nurse at the hospice and whom Reis had struck up a close and lasting bond.
After a brief discussion Leigh, who described Reis as a ‘gentle soul’, visited her hospice chaplain that her patient wanted to go outside one, final time. He shared her belief that they should make this happen, so they contacted the local Snomish Country Fire District and implored them to help making a dying man’s wish come true.
They, of course, were only too keen to make this happen, an on March 26th, 2014, a team of firefighters arrived on-mass at the Evergreen Hospice and helped Reis onto their truck. From here, they took him on an emotional, three-hour excursion to Meadowdale Beach Park in Edmonds, WA, granting his final wish as he was led across numerous trails, allowed to take in the fresh, spring air and left awe-struck by the sound of chirping birds. And with this, a loving and passionate soul had been restored, as its one, final wish came to pass.
How Reis Touched Hearts and Lives Across the Globe
Little is known about Reis’ personal life, such as whether he ever experienced the joys of marriage or parenthood. After his last outdoor adventure, however, the firefighters who had accompanied Reis became his family, often visiting him as his life began to ebb away. It was not long afterwards that Reis finally passed, with his heart full of happiness and his final wish fulfilled.
While this story has touched millions across the globe and reinforces the spirit of generosity that exists within us all, it is also a warning to enjoy life and make the most of every single day. Remember, while your goals an aspirations may change as you get older, you must always strive to make your dreams a reality and your life as memorable as possible.
Featured photo credit: Little Things via littlethings.com