Friendship and Cancer

February 11, 2010
Some people say that you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone. To this, I totally agree. The day that Dylan told me the news was probably the hardest day of both his and my life. He called me, and he was crying. I had never seen him cry. I had never heard of him ever crying. He always seemed so solid.
In the background, there was beeping, the sound of his mother crying, and his father talking intently on the phone. All of this didn’t matter though. All that mattered was Dylan’s voice. And his words. He started off slow.
“Hey.” He said dully.
“Hey.” I said back.
His usual happiness was gone from his voice. The fact he was crying was inevitable.
“I have something to tell you.”
He spoke to me softly, like he had a secret, although, at the same time, his voice was as loud as a marching band.
“Yes?” I asked.
My voice all of a sudden got higher. A lump caught in my throat. Something was really wrong.
“Trissy…”
He had used my nickname that we hadn’t used in years. My full name, Tristabelle, was never used. Usually, it was Belle, or Trisa. Only Dylan had ever called me Trissy, and that had ended when we were seven. This surprised me to a point that I was almost crying. Something was extremely wrong.
“I am just going to come out and say it. I just got my blood test results back.”
I took a sharp intake of breath that knocked its own breath out of me. My lungs hurt. I was warned about this. Dylan was sick. I just didn’t know how terrible it could get.
“I have leukemia.”
This time I didn’t breath. I couldn’t. It was like there was something stopping my lungs from letting sweet, cold oxygen enter my lungs. Dylan was sobbing more then ever. I could hear the intake of his breath. His gasping sobs. I could picture the teardrops running down his face. This alerted me that there were fat teardrops running down my own face. They came fast, pouring like clear, wet bullets down my cheeks. Then he stopped. He was holding his breath.
“Belle, are you ok?”
I could tell this was his way of defending himself.
He was always like that. He needed to be the strong one. He needed to be the one to comfort somebody else. He could never be the weak one. He never lets someone else comfort him, even in the hardest of times, like this one.
“No. I’m not. I’m not ok. Dylan, you are sick. Really sick. I’m scared for you.”
He was too young. Age thirteen was too young to be dying. Then, there was a long pause. It was sort of melodramatic in a way, though at the same time, it fit perfectly in this context.
“Why don’t you come over? I want to see you.”
This was Dylan’s reply. He could have gone on and on about his sickness. He could have cried some more. He could of screamed and yelled and told me he was scared. But he didn’t. This was another of the good things about Dylan. He was a good actor. He could pretend he was fine, when he wasn’t. At this point in time, he wasn’t pretending, but he was making the circumstance less dramatic then it was. Less dramatic then it should have been. Of course I couldn’t say no.
“Yeah. I’ll be there right now.”
Dylan’s house was in walking distance from mine, and living in Daly City, a small town in the suburbs of San Francisco, it was warm year round. Although this didn’t matter, because it was searing August day.
“Mom! I am going to Dylan’s house!” I yelled through the house.
“Ok. Call me when you get there. Also, tell Dylan’s parents I say hi.”
“Will do. Bye!”
She didn’t know what was going on yet.
I ran out the door as fast as I can and hopped on my bike as fast as I can which was at the end of gray stone walkway. I didn’t even bother to get a helmet. All that mattered was seeing Dylan right now. I rode as fast as I could, but nonetheless, I got there in a minute or two. Nevertheless, the ride seemed like eternity. I ran up to his door, and rang the doorbell. Dylan answered. His brown eyes were all red, and the area around his eyes was pink and puffy. His brown short hair was disheveled and stuck in all directions like he had just waked up. In fact, it looked like he had, because at two o’clock P.M. on a Sunday, someone should still be in their pajamas. Well, at least, someone likes Dylan.
The second I saw him; I threw myself into his arms. I just wanted to be near him and be close to him and to never let him go. Dylan was my best friend. He had been my best friend since age five when we met. We had been both trying to set up a lemonade stand in the same spot at the park. We screamed at each other, and finally our parents got involved and made us work together. Our parents got to talking and realized we lived close to each other. This was also August, so we had no school. This lead to a series of play dates, and then at least one familiar face in kindergarten. Since then, we have been inseparable. “Joined at the hip” as my mother says. But here, in his arms, this was all coming back. My long brown curls got caught on his watch, which he even wore to sleep.
Now even more was coming back. I remember when he was always at least four inches shorter, and could scream higher then I could. He also weighed at least twenty pounds less. He was also weaker then me and I could have beaten him up if I wanted to. But last summer, he shot up two inches, then during the school year, four more, and now two more. Making him close to a head taller then me. My nose was at his shoulder and his strong arms pressed me into him. I could tell his eyes were closed, and he had lowered his head so it was on my shoulder. I remember fifth grade, when we used to hug like this, and people would tell us about cooties, and we would laugh. I remember being teased because people thought I liked him. All of this was the last thing I wanted coming back to me now. I wanted to think happy thoughts and not to remember anything bad. Finally I pulled away. He down into my eyes with his hands on my shoulders, and said serenely,
“I never noticed how blue your eyes are.”
I pulled him into another hug. This one was shorter.
“Lets to inside.” I said.
We cut to the chase.
“So…” He said.
“When do you start chemo therapy?” I asked.
I looked down as I said it. I was sort of ashamed to be asking this. I didn’t want this to be happening. I wanted it all to be over. I wanted him to be ok.
“Well, they said there is to surgery possible to remove it without possibly paralyzing me. They also caught it a little too late. I am already at stage two.”
The way that he said this shocked me. He was so calm. He was so equable. At this point a tear ran down my cheek. He used his finger to wipe it up, and off my cheek. He twirled one of my curls around his finger.
“So when do you start?” I said.
“Tomorrow.”
“Oh.”
“Um. Yeah.”
“You know I am going to be ok right?” Dylan said.
He didn’t say this as though he was trying to reassure me. He said this as he was trying to reassure him self. He wanted to hear it from someone else.
“Yeah.”
My voice broke. I couldn’t take it.
“I should go.” I said.
I said this quietly, as to not let my voice break again. I didn’t want him to see me cry.
“Don’t leave me.”
He had never sounded so desperate. He needed me there. I couldn’t take this. I had to leave.
“Ill call you when I get home.”
I walked my bike home. I didn’t call him, because by the time I got home, my mom knew. She pulled me into a hug. I pulled away. I needed to be alone.

One year later, the cancer is gone. Dylan had finished chemotherapy. He was fine. The doctors said there was a one in a million chance of his cancer coming back. By this time, we were both fourteen, and in the eighth grade. The second he found out, he called me and said three words.
“Get over here.”
Then he hung up. I hopped on my candy apple red bike. I had spray painted my bike the summer before eighth grade. I wasn’t happy with the plain old-fashioned white bike. I wanted to stand out.
As I hopped on my bike, I rode as fast as I could. I was there in a minute. Once again, he pulled me into his arms. This hug was so tight I could barley breath. Just the same, it was a happy hug. It wasn’t a hug of sadness. We both cried tears of joy. I knew what happened. He was cured of cancer. He was ok. We walked to the park and got ice cream. We stood in the same place we had a lemonade stand when we were five.
Then, he kissed me. The friendship was ruined.

Eleven years later, we are twenty-five, and happily married. Dylan is free of his cancer. We had one of those stupid teen relationships in high school, and then in senior year, we picked collages. They both happened to be the same one. We both went to Harvard. He graduated with a degree in law; I graduated with a degree in teaching special education. He was my first boyfriend, my first love, and my only marriage. It plans to stay that way.





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