My Friend, Beth This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

August 9, 2011
When people think of heroes, different ideas come to mind. Young children might envision Superman or Batman while adults might picture a doctor or police officer. For me, one person comes to mind – my friend, Beth.

Beth was born with a respiratory problem which makes it difficult for her to breathe. She grew up in and out of hospitals where she was attached to devices to help control her illness. When Beth was about four, the doctors told her parents she wouldn’t live past the age of ten. But she was determined, and when her eleventh birthday rolled around, Beth was there to blow out her candles. She proved the doctors wrong but, even though she lived past the expected age, she still wasn’t out of the woods.

Beth went through several more years of nurses and doctors poking her like a pincushion, but she never complained. Instead she would just smile, give a little laugh and continue to fight. With all she had to deal with, you would think she would be too busy to listen to her friends’ trivial dilemmas – but she always found time.

I remember asking her once if she ever asked, “Why me?” She looked at me and said, “At the risk of sounding corny, I believe God has a purpose for everything. He must have given me this illness for a reason.” I asked how she always kept her spirits up, since she was constantly so cheerful it was nauseating. She laughed and said, “If I give up, I might as well die right now. Life isn’t worth anything if you don’t put effort into it. You must put emotion into it. I fight because of my desire to conquer. What doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger.” In that moment she showed me what it means to live. I mean to truly live life to its fullest without regrets.

I’ll tell you now that my friend’s real name isn’t Beth. If I included her name she’d probably kill me. She doesn’t want anyone to know about her health problems because then they’ll give her special treatment and that’s the last thing she wants. She wants to be an average teenager understanding that she has to accept love as well as loss. She’s the kind of person you can’t be satisfied to meet only once and who improves the quality of love by improving the quality of life. She’s so passionate that she makes acceptance that much easier and, in my book, that makes her a true hero.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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