Her Legacy Wrapped In Mine

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Someone once said, “Life is short.” As a young child, it never occurred to me to believe such a thought until I saw death take over my sweet, innocent 15 year old sister. As a nine year old, I observed my beloved Alyssa fight childhood cancer. Leukemia was the deadly disease that had taken over her body, leaving behind sores and bruises and a much weaker version of her. Though Alyssa made it seem as if she were completely healthy with her comforting smile, nobody was oblivious to the fact that time was running out. I can still smell the scent of the exact day we all dreaded and that awful stench of hospital. It was February 2002 that changed my family's life.

Every two seconds, fresh chills would spiral down my body as I watched the monitor beep and flat line. My beautiful older sister lay in silence, stiff and not moving. The moment was surreal, to say the least. The hospital room was blue and cold and empty. Clear, red wires hugged her body, attempting to keep her alive but unfortunately my own flesh and blood was gone forever. What now? How would I cope? The next few days, weeks, and years began a journey to the person that I have become today.


A few weeks after we buried Alyssa, I began to question just about everything. I was a confused little girl, always wondering why it had to happen to my family and how we were going to pick up the pieces of this terrible mess. The pain felt like it would last forever, and my family was left broken. It was weird to think and say out loud that my sister had “passed” and had gone to this “better world” that everyone spoke of. I couldn’t carry on a conversation and talking about the situation with others was awkward as I didn’t know how to discuss Alyssa's misfortune without a hint of being uncomfortable.

Fast forward to a couple years later, as a teenager, I developed a rebellious attitude and my curiosity for why God took away my sister began to expand. How strange that she was related to me and that I was still was having a hard time believing she had vanished from my life. At times I would feel anger, and long for answers. Countless times, I’d catch myself day dreaming of what life would be like if she were still with us. At the end of the day, I felt it was a waste of time. I’d only find myself frustrated and left with the one question I would never figure out. “Why?”

I am now almost 18, and I have discovered some of life's most treasured aspects out of Alyssa's death. Instead of being angry with life and its decisions, I am at peace with what agony I have experienced. I have finally grown up and realized that everything happens for a reason. I've learned simple things, such as your hair doesn’t define who you are, and how to smile when you feel pain in the midst of adversity. I also know that life is short and to make everyday count as if it were your last.

Alyssa taught me these life lessons and now I want to help others with their life lessons. Becoming a child life specialist is a dream that I have had since that fateful day. I would like to assist other children who, like me, cannot answer all of these questions at once. I know that Alyssa’s life was not in vain and that her legacy will live on through me and hopefully touch many other lives in the years to come.





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