Ethan, my youngest child, was 12 years-old when he was diagnosed with cancer in July of 2020.
He was at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Houston Medical Center, and when his treatment began, we had discovered there was a Chick-fil-A right across the street from the hospital. We were overjoyed, not because the hospital food was bad, but because long before Ethan was diagnosed, we would often go to the Chick-fil-A near our house for breakfast on Saturday mornings.
It was mostly just Ethan and I, not mom or his older brother, Aidan. It was our time to spend together, talking about our week and laughing at silly jokes as we enjoyed chicken biscuits.
This Chick-fil-A in the medical center was an incredible discovery as I could just walk out of the hospital and grab some chicken biscuits for Ethan and me to enjoy.
It kept our Saturday morning breakfast fun going, but to be honest it turned into an almost every other day thing. I was so happy that I was able to brighten up Ethan’s morning. This was a small thing, but it gave us both comfort.
When he was able to come home and be on outpatient treatment, I would still get takeout on Saturday mornings, and we would have breakfast together as a family gathered around our kitchen table.
Then, five months later things took a turn for the worse and Ethan relapsed. We were transferred to MD Anderson Cancer Center and that is when the war began. We were sort of stuck in the hospital and I could not leave the building due to the isolation protocols at the time, so obtaining biscuits became a very a difficult task. But we quickly discovered that there was Chick-fil-A right there in the hospital cafeteria.
They did not serve breakfast, but they did have lunch and dinner and we went from a breakfast ritual to a lunch time one. Instead of biscuits, we had Chick-fil-A sandwiches. This only lasted for a short time. The cancer was winning the war and with no hope in sight for a cure, Ethan made the decision to came home on Hospice.
He came home on March 20, 2021, and five days later, Ethan took his last breath. He became an angel on March 25. My life was shattered.
A couple of weeks after coping with the pain of losing Ethan, I woke up on a Saturday morning and drove to the Chick-fil-A in our neighborhood, and I ordered two biscuits, one for me and one for Ethan. Because COVID-19 was still going on, it was curbside pick-up only and once I got my bag of biscuits, I sat in my car in the parking lot, and I cried and cried.
I can’t remember if I even ate the biscuits or not that day. Then the next week, on Saturday morning, I went back, and I have not stopped.
For the past 20 months, I have had breakfast at Chick-fil-A every Saturday morning, If I was out of town, I would find the nearest Chick-fil-A. It brought me comfort. And even when I was on a cruise last October and we were at sea on Saturday morning, I told the dining room staff of my Saturday morning ritual and they made me a custom breakfast of biscuits and chicken, it was so special and made my day.
If you did not know my story and were to see me at Chick-fil-A on a Saturday morning eating my two biscuits, one for Ethan and one for me, you would think I was just any other guy enjoying his breakfast.
But what is really happening at that table is a father who misses his son, a father with a broken heart, a father who is enjoying chicken biscuits and trying to relive a happier time in his life.
I like to sit at the same table if I can get it. Table 13 at Sienna Crossing, because the sun shines in from the east and there is nothing more beautiful than a ray of sunshine on your face. So, this is my ritual, Saturday morning breakfast at Chick-fil-A.
It warms my heart, puts a smile on my face, gives me comfort and the strength to get through the week. Breakfast is usually at 9:30, so if you are ever there, you have a good chance of seeing me.
Hopefully, this is a story that can inspire others to find hope, healing, and comfort in the little things after the loss of a loved one.
Update: On Feb. 4, the Chick-fil-A at Sienna Crossing reserved Table 13 for me. When I walked in and saw this, I stopped in my tracks and my eyes filled with tears. I looked over at the team and they all had smiles on their faces.