In April of 2010, my friend Janet, at the age of 14, lost her battle to cancer. I haven't been ready until now to do this, but this is closure for me, but more importantly, for her memory. This is what she needs to know, so here's a letter to Janet.
It's been almost 3 months since you left here and went somewhere better. I still think about you constantly, and selfishly wish that you were still here. I miss seeing your name pop up on my phone and reading your texts; miss hearing your sweet voice.
I remember the first day I met you. You couldn't get the lamp to turn on, so we sat in the near dark filling out your paperwork. I knew from the moment I met you that you were special. You knew all your families birthdays by heart, and your wish was something that involved the whole family. When we ended up having to change for health reasons, you told me you still wanted to get things for your family. What you wanted for yourself was so little. I was blown away by how, at age 14, you were so giving. At an age when most girls are selfish, you were the exact opposite.
I remember telling you that you couldn't go on your shopping spree when you wanted because of health reasons. The chemo was making you so sick. You were so disappointed but still smiled. Do you remember getting pedicures together? You picked out the brightest purple you could find. I was horrified but I told you that you could pick! So I picked the brightest pink I could find for you. You laughed at how it tickled, we ate chocolate together and talked about life. You told me about your diagnosis. About how the chemo made you sick. About how you hated how it hurt your family. You didn't wear a hat that night and I was so proud of you, but I would get so angry when people would stare at you. But not you... you just acted as though they didn't exist. Later that night we went to dinner and you tried to teach me spanish, and I failed miserably. We laughed so hard and for awhile it was like there was no cancer.
But in reality, there was and soon you got really sick. Your last few weeks here were so painful. It broke my heart to see you in so much pain yet you always had a smile for me every time I saw you, along with a sweet compliment about my hair, or how pretty I looked. I'm not even that sweet when I do feel good.
Do you remember that night at your house, when you laid in my lap? I so wanted to just wrap you up and take you away from it all, where there wasn't any more pain. When you looked up at me and told me you couldn't do it anymore I knew I had to let you go. I knew you were ready. I knew that you were going to a better place. Later that night you asked me to take you to the hospital. Then you were crying out in pain...yet still managed to tell me that I looked like a model. It was that night that it really hit me. You were going to die. I wanted to know why. Why would God let that happen to you? Sweet, innocent you. Your whole family welcomed me with loving arms, why did any of you deserve this? Now I know. It was so the rest of the world could see your love and strength. So we could strive to be a little more like you.
Towards the end it was more and more difficult for you to speak, or to understand you. Too much medicine, too much pain, I'm not sure. I will never forget the last words you spoke to me. That night, you'd talked to me earlier, amazed I'd "come all the way here just to see you". I have to be honest. I didn't want to come see you that night. I knew I'd cry when I left and my emotions were worn out. But a great friend asked if I would feel bad if I didn't go, and I said yes. So, there was my answer. Down to Vanderbilt I went, and I am so glad that I did. I spent an hour with you that night, just holding your hand and letting you babble. After the nurse came in and gave you more medicine, you wanted to move to the chair. You started to doze off so I told your dad I would go. I hugged you the best I could, kissed your forehead, and told you I loved you, just like I did every time I would go. As I was walking away, when I thought you were fast asleep, you whispered, "I love you..." to me. It was the first time you'd told me, and the last words you ever said to me. That was on Friday. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday you were unable to speak at all but would still squeeze my hand and try to smile every time I saw you. On Tuesday your family let me know it was time to come and say goodbye. I am grateful to them for allowing me that opportunity. On April 6, 2010, at 10:30 p.m. you went to your final resting place.
I miss you, but you taught me so much in those short months I had the honor of knowing you. You taught me unfailing love. You showed me endless courage and incredible strength. You had an amazing faith in God. You were such a beautiful person, both inside and outside. I will always strive to be more like you. More compassionate. More giving. More accepting of people around me.
I know you are up in heaven where there's no cancer. I can't wait to see you again.
I love you so much,