Not All Hope is Lost

February 29, 2008
By Rachel Kustenborder, Huntingdon, PA

It was a warm late spring day in Colorado. A cool sweet breeze was blowing, ripe with the scent of newly sprouting grass and emerging buds of the Birch tree. In the meadows, butterflies floated through a sea of waist length grass, while a shy fox peeked out of a den with three equally timid pups. Young Amy was out for a ride on her sorrel Quarter Horse mare, Wild Freedom, better known as Willow. As she and Willow cantered through the spring fresh field, Amy felt gloriously free. Only two and a half weeks of school were left, and then the whole summer stretched before her and her beloved horse.
Amy Krasvith was a 9th grader in Rockview High, and would be glad when she could graduate in three years. ‘That will leave a lot of spare time for Willow and me to practice our pole bending skills. Maybe we can make it to States if we practice hard enough!’ Amy thought as she and Willow came into sight of the Krasvitch’s farm. The old log cabin styled house had served as Amy’s home for as long as she could remember. She had taken her first steps on the worn oak floors, and had played with her kitten, Fireball, in her room on the long rainy days when all the chores had been done. After a long day of hard work, the thick log boards and cozy cottage windows had somehow seemed very inviting to Amy.
Amy pulled back gently on the reins and Willow stopped in front of the large, roomy barn. She jumped off of the stocky mare and led her to her stall. After unsaddling and feeding her horse along with the Krasvith’s six other Quarter horses, Amy walked towards her home. She pulled off her cowboy boots on the roomy front porch and proceeded into the house. Fireball slowly meandered towards Amy. The kitten had grown into a lanky adolescent, and was quite full of herself.
“Hey Fireball.” Amy greeted her as the spunky cat rubbed against her legs. The cat answered her with a plaintive ‘meowwww’. Amy continued through the dimly lit kitchen, Fireball close behind, to the den where her father was watching the evening news. He was sprawled out on the couch, exhausted and asleep from his hard day of chores on the farm. He had been taking on more and more chores lately because of his wife’s illness. Meg Krasvith had been diagnosed with leukemia four years ago. They had gotten the nasty illness under control and in remission, but it had come back almost a year ago. When chemo and radiation had not done anything to control the cancer, Amy’s aunt Lisa, Meg’s sister, had undergone a bone marrow transplant in hope of curing the leukemia. It had been four months since the transplant, but Meg had shown no sign of being in remission.
‘I almost forgot mom went for a checkup today. That must be why dad is so tired,’ Amy thought as she quietly slipped past her sleeping father and trudged up the stairs to her parent’s bedroom. She pushed the heavy wooden door slightly ajar. Amy crept through the space and padded over to her mothers sleeping figure. Fireball leapt up onto the bed, waking Meg up.
“Hey, you little rascal!” Meg said weakly as the kitten rubbed against her hand, demanding attention.

“Sorry mom, I didn’t mean to wake you.” Amy said quietly, pulling the cat closer to her.

Meg Krasvith smiled tiredly. “That’s ok. I needed to get up anyway; otherwise I wouldn’t be able to sleep at all tonight. How was your ride? I noticed Willow was gone from the corral and assumed you guys went on a ride.”

Amy sighed wistfully. “It was really great. I love this time of season. Everything smells warm and fresh and there are so many different colors in the meadows. Willow and I had a good time.”

“Good, I’m glad.” Meg shifted uneasily in the bed. “Honey, I need to talk to you. The checkup today showed I am not getting any better at all, so dad and I have come to a hard decision. We are going to have to sell the farm and move closer to the hospital so I can have treatments.”

Amy was shocked. She didn’t want to leave the house or the farm. Then a thought hit her. Willow would have to be sold!

A month later, Amy and her family had put an add in the newspaper for her beloved Willow. A family had come and decided she was the horse was for them. They were arranged to come pick her up in a week.

Amy’s family had also settled on a house for them to live in. They would be living in a small apartment. When her father took her to look at the small area they would be renting, she expected a half decent home. But when they walked into the apartment, Amy was hit by a wave of stale cigarette smelling air. As they walked up the vinyl staircase, a dim light bulb flickered and a lone fly buzzed around the light. The thick air seemed to be weighed down by the heat of the summer, and it was making Amy feel claustrophobic. The peeling mustard colored walls made Amy want to puke up her lunch. The area they were renting was just as bad, if not worse. The turquoise carpet was faded in places, and was stained from numerous coffee stains. Amy was not impressed at all. She knew her father would be paying for the rent by working shifts at a small shoe store a few blocks from the house and it was the best he could manage, but she wished with all her heart they could live some place else.

As Amy and her father rode home looking at the small apartment, Amy’s dad tried to get her excited about the move.
“Come on honey. It will be a new adventure! You might not have Willow, but at least you can bring Fireball. And I’m sure you’ll make friends here in town. Then you can roller blade and walk around town,” he said to his downhearted daughter.
‘And die of the fumes afterward,’ Amy thought with remorse. She had always hated to be dragged into town for half an hour of shopping, but now she was going to have to live in it! For a country-loving girl, she couldn’t imagine anything worse.

Amy enjoyed the last few days she had with her horse on long trail rides and days spent exploring the great outdoors. She painfully counted the days until Willow would be sent off to her new home. But one day Amy received an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

“My leukemia is back in remission!” Amy’s mom announced on a return visit from the doctors.

“We did it again, and we get to stay on the farm!” Her mother announced excitedly. Amy was ecstatic. She quickly phoned Willow’s potential owners, and told them she was sorry, but there was a change in plans, Willow was staying! Best of all, Amy and her family would get to stay on the farm and not have to live in the repulsive apartment building.

Amy ran out of the house and to the barn. She threw the stall door open and hurtled towards Willow, enclosing her in a big hug. The mare stood quietly, chewing her hay, not sure what to make of all the fuss.

“We did it girl, we beat the disease again.” Amy whispered as tears of joy ran down her face. “All hope is not lost.”

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