Erin by Julia Smith
My story is simple. Girl meets girl. Girls become best friends. Girl gets sick. Girl loses girl forever. I know this story line sounds tragic, and it is, but it’s so much more. My best friend in the whole wide world was Erin Smith.
This girl was everything I wanted to be. She was wise beyond her years. She was courageous. She was selfless. But most of all, she was a great friend. Erin’s story begins on her fourth birthday. And her gift? A horrid diagnosis. When Erin turned four years old she was diagnosed with stage four, Neuroblastoma (cancer). The doctors predictions: dead by the age of five. No! Erin was a fighter. She survived past their deadlines each and every time until she couldn’t fight anymore.
Erin died at age eleven on June 14, 2005. To many individuals her death evokes a terrible sadness. That is true. Why anyone so good deserved to die such a slow and painful death? I will never know. Erin’s death also brings inspiration to many of the lives she has touched. Personally, my life would have been meaningless without her.
She taught me so much about life. I never could have learned without her. She taught me how to face my fears, while watching her endure needle after needle and one painful procedure after another. Now this may be a big deal to the average adult, but remember she was four. Every step had to be a big deal.
The next scariest thing at that age is the “Boogie Monster.” I’m sure if she had to, she’d battle him as well. She taught me about patience. I remember waiting in the hospital with her every Tuesday while she got chemotherapy. The worst was the waiting to get hydrated and then the waiting to get dehydrated; or the waiting during a remission for the cancer to come back. She was patient, and she was hopeful. While everyone else would pace back and forth, she was just Erin...a normal little girl. Not the dying girl, but the everyday four year old who loved playing with dolls and drawing pictures.
But most of all she taught me that everything in life is not fair, but that’s life and there’s nothing we can do about it. When Erin was nearing the end...she felt it. She knew it was coming and instead of being angry (like many of us would be), she accepted her fate. She didn’t try to attach meaning, but prepared for it like anyone else did. So at eleven years old, my best friend in the world wrote her will. She made a list of what she wanted people to have of her possessions after she was gone. Her death taught me what grief was. At eleven, I didn’t think life could get much worse, but following her example, I tried to move on with life.
Today I can say the pain has subsided, and it is bittersweet. It’s nice being able to laugh and enjoy life again, but it means I’m not thinking of her as much and I am starting to forget. Forget her smile, laugh, and voice. I don’t know which is worse. I already lost her. I don’t want to lose her memory too, which is why I write. I want to become a writer. Always have. I want to keep her memory through my words. By writing Erin’s story, she can touch lives, and continue to live in people’s memories throughout the world. Like I said, without Erin my life would be meaningless.
My purpose is to tell her story, and that’s what I plan on doing. Although Erin’s death was tragic, her life shouldn’t be mourned, but celebrated. She lived, and she was a great person. People need to hear that, and I’m going to tell them.
TONY'S NOTE: Every now and then I come upon children with exceptional inner strength. I'd love to know where they get it from.
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