Courageous Fear

December 10, 2012
Courageous Fear

Ella was afraid. She was only seven when we discovered the countless bruises that covered her face and arms. She tried to hide them, even stole her mommy’s makeup, but eventually we figured it out. At first, no one but Ella was frightened. The doctor we took her to didn’t think that anything was wrong with her. He told her to be more careful. He never did a single test. It wasn’t that he didn’t care, he just didn’t care enough. We took his word for it and simply ignored the problem because it was easier than trying to understand what was happening to our little Ella.
Then she stopped eating. Her body became so frail that I feared it would shatter into a million pieces with only the slightest touch. She was very pale after that. I remember looking at her one day, really looking at her.
It was the time of the year when winter had fully smothered the autumn season. A blanket of white snow had coated our front yard, so I had bundled Ella up in her favorite pink coat and we went outside to play in the snow. My fingers soon became numb so I went back inside to grab my gloves. I was only gone for a minute, maybe less, but when I returned to the frosty air Ella had disappeared. Adrenaline and fear consumed my body and I sprinted to the backyard. Then I stopped. Silence surrounded me; I had no words to say. Ella was lying in the snow. All of her warm clothes had been stripped off and the only thing she was still wearing was her pink, striped long underwear. I stood still for a moment, my foggy breath clouding my vision, as she slowly moved her arms and legs. Up and down, back and forth, until a perfect snow angel had been created. Then she stopped and smiled. My eyes traveled up and down her body as I took it all in—her rosy red cheeks, her beautiful blue eyes, her smile. Then the smile that had somehow traveled to my face as well lost all its happiness. I could tell she was in pain. Her skin almost matched the color of the snow that she lied upon, and she was so bony. It was as if her skin was sticking to her bones, and the bruises hadn’t gone away. Their contrast in color made them especially apparent to me now. I remember thinking that she looked sick. Very, very sick. Then she started to cough, and she couldn’t stop. I raced towards her cradling her in my arms. Picking her up I rushed her inside, leaving a destroyed snow angel in my wake.
It was after that moment that we took her to the hospital. This time the doctors did run tests. Not once did I leave the waiting room. I didn’t move a muscle, just stared off into space because I didn’t know what else to do. They sucked out her blood and stole some of her bone marrow, and I didn’t even flinch. I was numb to much more than the cold. We were finally allowed to see her. Once I took sight of her in one of those disgusting blue hospital gowns I began to cry, and she cried too. She was so little, so terrified.
The doctors finally broke the news to us that Ella had leukemia, and her life became an emotional rollercoaster from that day forward. My heart aches when I think about the countless shots she had to endure. She was never strong, and she never wanted to accept what was happening to her. Tears fell from her no longer rosy cheeks often, and it was if she had no fight inside of her. Whenever the doctors would come to give her shots, she would hide under the bed. She refused everything the doctors tried to give her. We tried our best to cheer her up, but after Christmas had come and past none of us wanted to deal with her constant screaming and sobbing and stubbornness.
Her sorrowful wails echoed throughout the hospital hallways. When all of her beautiful auburn hair fell off her head, she was so ashamed. She refused to look at a mirror; she refused to let me call her beautiful. He face sunk in, he eyes were never dry, and she lacked the one thing that we all knew she needed to fight through her disease: bravery.
Friends, we are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Ella Fay King and to mourn in the remembrance of her death. In the eyes of the doctors, all of you, and at one point even me, Ella was a coward. She never fought back; she never accepted who she had turned into; and she was never strong for any of us. Ella was just a little girl with a deadly disease. She stood for nothing, and didn’t want to. However, I wish to question you all. Ella may have hid in the sight of evil, but she demonstrated the essence of courage. Courage is an unexpected and curious trait, but I believe that Ella had it. My little sister Ella was much more courageous than I. Courage lives in us all. It lived inside of Ella. Leukemia had just found a way to smother it.

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