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I was on my way home from school when I turned the corner to my street. I could hear something in the forest to my left. It was a huge forest that was full of dogwoods, aspens, birches, pines, and other trees; the whole scene could have been right out of a painting. I stopped and listened, but I didn’t hear it again. I went home and pondered what it could have been. It took me awhile to get to sleep that night because I couldn’t get that sound out of my head. The next day, I was about halfway through that stretch again, and I heard it. I followed it until I could understand it, and it was tall brunette girl singing a song I couldn’t place. Her voice was as smooth as velvet, and soft as the wind. I thought that she was singing for the birds and animals, or at least that is what I thought. I was standing about 50 feet behind her, and was in the middle of trying to put a tree between us when she finally acknowledged I was there, most likely for the noise I made trying to get behind the tree. She slowly turned around, and when she saw me she stopped singing and smiled at me. “Hi! My name is Alexandra, but you can call me Alex. Sorry to disturb you. I thought that no one was around.” I finally found my tongue, and managed to introduce myself. “It’s okay, I was just walking through. My name is Kathryn, but people call me Kat, take your pick.” I said smiling, “You have a beautiful voice Alex.” She looked at me for a second or two, and finally answered, “Thank you, but God gave it to me, and He should get the credit,” she said smiling, and as she glanced at her watch she said, “The song was In Christ Alone in case you were wondering. I gotta get home. See you later?” She said pointing at me. I answered very fast for some reason. “For sure,” She replied, “Cool. Bye!” and was gone before I could answer.
As I walked home I had a feeling that this was going to be no ordinary friendship, but I didn’t know why. The next day we met in the same place and talked, sang, played, or did something. Very rarely did we go anywhere. She was homeschooled so we didn’t attend school together. Most afternoons, I would be on my way home from school, and taking the shortcut, and I would hear her singing. I asked her one day why she sang the songs she did. She said with a smile on her face, “God gave me this talent, and I am singing for him. It is only fitting that I sing hymns and worship songs, don’t you think?” I nodded my head mainly because I didn’t know what else to say. She was the only person in the world that could make me speechless on a regular basis.
Well, as the months wore on, we continued to meet at what we called “our log” and had some great times. She was sick a lot though. Most days she couldn’t come out because she was so sick. I thought it was just a flu bug or mono, or something like that, but it got to the point that I had to ask. The very next time I saw Alex, I asked her why she was so sick. She looked down at the ground, and up to the sky, and then looked at me. She did that a lot, and it really got annoying, call me stubborn, but I was going to find out. She finally took a deep breath, and said, “I have cancer. I am expected to live only a few more weeks.” This was the first time that I had had her tell me something that could have been harsh without a smile, and I knew she wasn’t joking around with me. I felt myself getting dizzy, and I sat down on the log, hard. I just looked at her with what I am sure looked like a blank stare. I was shocked to say the least. She looked at me, and said, “I have to go. Treatment is tomorrow and I have to be up at 6. See ya later?” I answered with my usual answer, “For sure,” but as she walked away, I realized that my friend had weeks to live. I picked up my school bag that had somehow slipped from my back in all the stress, and slowly turned and walked home. I managed to slip past my parents who were in the office talking, and up to my room. This room was my sanctuary, and being alone helped, but as I undid my pack, and cleaned myself up and got ready for dinner, I just couldn’t hold it any longer. I, the one who didn’t cry, the one who didn’t break, the one who was strong for everyone else broke. I lay on my bed sobbing for so long that my mom came upstairs. When she found my door locked, she started to panic. She was screaming at me, “Kathryn if you do not open this door this very second I am going to break it in two you understand?” I slowly got up, and with tears streaming down my face unlocked that dumb door, and turned before mom could see me. I told her that I didn’t want to eat, and I didn’t want to do anything. I just wanted to die with my friend. I could hear her shock as she said, “What has gotten into you? You are needed here! You commit suicide with Alex and her mom and I will strangle you both with our bare hands!” she said screaming. I turned around and glared at her, “Don’t you get it?” I could feel my voice rising, “Alex only has a few weeks to live Mom! She is dying from cancer!!!” I was screaming at her, and I didn’t care. We never raised our voices at each other, so by the time I was done, Dad was standing in the hall behind her, watching us fight and emotion after emotion crossing his face. I have never seen him so upset before. I looked at both of them, and flat out told them, “Yes, you heard me right! Alex is dying of cancer, now could you just leave me alone?!” I walked over, and before anyone could say anything I slammed the door and locked it. I ran to my bed, and I fell on it sobbing.
As night came and went, I was thankful that it was Saturday, and I didn’t have school. I slowly got up off the bed, and made my way slowly downstairs. As I walked into the living room, I saw my parents looking at me, and I ignored them and walked to the kitchen to get a bowl of cereal. I was starving. Turns out, stress and fright aren’t good on an empty stomach. I was about halfway done with my cereal, when the phone rang. I was the closest to it, and I picked up the receiver, and answered, “Hello?” A voice on the other side answered back. “Hello, I am looking for a Kat Johnson. Is she by chance there?” I said that the lady was talking to her, and asked her what was going on. Her answer threw me, and I just about passed out. “Kat, your friend Alex is in the ER here, and she is very sick with her cancer. The doctor’s don’t expect her to make it through the day. She would like for you to come in and see her.” I handed the phone to my dad and sat down looking at him. Every emotion imaginable crossed his face. He looked at me and nodded yes to my questioning gaze. I looked at mom, and ran upstairs, and threw jeans, a t-shirt that Alex and I both got at a concert, and my favorite sweatshirt. I grabbed my school bag in case something happened and I needed something to do, and ran downstairs, threw on my flip-flops, and was out the door and into the car in 5 minutes. I watched the house waiting for them to come out, and ten minutes later they did. Patience is not a strong point of mine, especially today, as you can imagine. So, as we pulled out of the driveway, and onto the main road, I looked out the window. I was sitting on the right side of the car, and as we passed the forest, I choked back a sob. I knew that I would never hear her beautiful voice in that forest again. I would never hear her say with a smile, “God gave it to me”, and I would never see her in “our place” again. Life is so unfair I thought, and as I dozed off, the last thing I remember seeing was my dad’s concerned gaze looking at mom.
The next thing I know, mom is waking me up saying, “We are at the hospital Kat.” I sat up, and looked out the window, and there stood my greatest fear between me and my dying friend. I hated hospitals. They were the last place that I had seen my baby sister, and the last place that I had seen my Grandpa. It was the very symbol of death for me, and we were here for the same reason all over again. I took a deep breath and walked into the hospital between my mom and dad. When we got to the front desk, dad said something, and the lady answered, but I didn’t understand a word of it. I felt my dad holding my arm as we walked to Alex’s room. It was dark and dreary, and there was nobody beside her. I looked at dad, and nodded his head, and let go of me, grabbed mom, and went to talk with the family. I forced myself to walk to Alex’s bedside, and noticed she had no hair. She had no makeup, she had nothing on, and she looked like a ghost. I forced myself to grab her hand gently and look at her. After a couple of seconds she opened her eyes and smiled. She looked at me, and told me her last wish. She said, “Kat, my final wish is that you understand and want God’s love, and become a Christian. I want to see you in Heaven someday.” I told her that I would, but somehow she looked at me and said, “No! Kat, don’t do it because I said, but because I said to, but because you believe in God and that Jesus died on the cross for your sins!” I told her that I will try to understand it. Alex lay back down and smiled. Her final words were, “God, show Kat the way to You. She needs your love. Here I am Lord, take me Home.” I felt her grip on my hand loose, and the saw her hand fall to the white bed. She was gone.
My best friend was gone, and I felt the tears streaming down my face again. Suddenly I felt a presence. All the family was outside the room balling, and I was the only one besides Alex’s body, but I swear there was someone there. I followed Alex’s habit that drove me nuts, and looked at her, then looked at the nightstand. There was her Bible. She had brought it with here many times in the woods, but today it was open to Psalms 27. Her favorite chapter and verse in the whole book she told me once. She had quoted it many times, especially verse 6. “And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.” I had heard it so many times, I had it memorized. I had no idea what was going on, but I looked down at Alex’s hand, back at the Bible, and then out the window up at the sky. I felt like I needed to do something. I opened my mouth and once I started talking, I couldn’t stop. “God, I am so sorry I never got it. Lord help me please! I am like that lost Lamb that Alex said you saved, even though you had 99 sheep with you. I don’t want to be! Help me to become that Christian that Alex was! Singing and making melody even in the midst of her cancer. I want you as my light and Salvation. Help me.” With tears streaming down my face, which was getting old, I looked back down at the Bible in my hand. In the midst of everything, I had moved to the window, so I walked back over to Alex’s body, to say goodbye one last time, and as I looked at her face, something happened. She was smiling. She was peaceful. I knew I had made the right decision, and was not backing out now. I knew that her wish had come true, and that I would see her again in someday. “Thank you Alex. You showed me the way to the Light. I am eternally grateful. I will miss your singing, but I will miss your courage most of all. I love you my dear friend. Good bye Alex.”
The next few months were torture. No knowing what was next and grieving was taking its toll on me, even though I had God to lean on. The things that helped pull me out of it though was the fact that I knew I would see Alex again, and thinking that she is watching over me, but now I have a greater friend.
The End





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