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I Want to Live Like You
There will always be that special friend who will always accept you for you are, catch you when you fall, and he or she will always be by your side no matter what. I know this because I have a very special friend who has made me into a very better person just by being my best friend. Her name is Kristen Ellen L.
As I took a step into the hospital room, I saw a girl lying in a bed with a ventilator on her side, not able to breathe on her own, nor could she speak. She could hear people talking to her, but her only way of responding was to move her index finger which meant yes, and when she moved two fingers, it meant no. As I blankly stared at this poor innocent girl who didn’t deserve any of this, I started to see two girls eager to start their first day of 5th grade…
The first time I talked to Kristen was when we were in 5th grade. From the second we started talking to each other, we knew a great friendship would quickly appear. It was true. Before we knew it, we were best friends. We did everything together. We went to gymnastics practice together 5 days a week, I always went to her house to help baby-sit, and whenever one of us felt even the slightest boredom, we would call each other up to spend the day together. I was able to see myself being friends with her forever. Even when we separate to walk down our own path of life, our friendship would never end. I knew that I would never want to lose a great friend like her. But unfortunately, things didn’t go well as I thought it would.
Ever since Kristen was born, a disease called cystic-fibrosis had shadowed her everywhere she went. Because her lungs were much weaker compared to a healthy person, coughing constantly was a normal thing for her. Even a slight cold could put her body in danger.
I remember at one lock-in sleepover for gymnastics, Kristen was not allowed to stay over night because her mom knew that if she stayed, then she would be having so much fun that she would forget to put on layers before going to bed to keep her from catching a cold. At the time, I had no idea how serious her disease could get so all I thought was, “Aw… that stinks. I wish she could stay!” I didn’t understand her disease because it never got my attention on how life threatening her disease was until she got hospitalized in 7th grade.
The first time she was hospitalized, it was nothing serious. She simply had to get checked by her doctor and she was released right away. But as time passed, her disease continued to get worse. She had to stay in the hospital longer, she had to take more medicine than she usually did, and her body gradually weakened as each day had passed. By then, I realized that her health was not going to be recovered anytime soon. It felt like there was nothing I could do for her. Her disease is incurable. I was scared to death. Not knowing what could happen to her the next day was horrifying. Then I thought to myself, “What are you doing? Are you the one who has the disease? You’re able to do so much more than her right now. Help her… and show her that she’s not alone in this fight against cystic fibrosis.” I’ve always stuck with the moral of lending a hand to whoever needs the help, and I wasn’t going to let her disease stop me.
Whenever I had the time, I would ask my parents to drive me to the hospital. I would call Kristen beforehand to make sure that she didn’t have her check-up at the time I was planning on going. As soon as she heard the word “visit” coming out of my mouth, I could tell she had a big smile on her face already anxiously waiting for me to arrive. On every visit I made, I always bought her a box of Mike-n-Ikes; her all time favorite candy. Even though our day together wasn’t at her house, or at the park, nothing changed. We talked about boys, drama, and random events occurring in our lives; just like the usual conversations I always had with her. I loved visiting her. I loved seeing her beautiful smile shining into my eyes. I knew I was doing something good for her because her mom, Mrs. Larsen, would always tell me how much bigger her smile got whenever I was with her. Knowing this made me feel great. Before I thought that there was nothing I could do to help her, but I realized that even the littlest, simplest thing can help a friend in need.
I look around the room, and I realized that I was back in Kristen’s hospital room, feeling lost. I was so used to seeing her smile the moment I stepped into her room, when I saw this poor girl I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to gossip with her. I wanted to fool around with her. I wanted the past to come back. I was able to talk to her, but it was like a one-way conversation. Her only response to my voice was moving her fingers. No matter how much I wished to hear her voice, her body did not let her speak.
On May 11th, 2007, her family came to the decision to let Kristen go from the ventilator which was the only thing keeping her breathing. I wanted to say one last good-bye to her, but because this all happened on a school day, I couldn’t get my parents to take a day off from work to drive me to the hospital. So I e-mailed Mrs. L. a letter for Kristen as my final goodbye to her. On that day at 4 o’clock PM, Kristen went from my best friend, to my beautiful angel.
It’s almost been 2 years since all this has happened. Over these 2 years, I came to many realizations. I was very upset for the first couple of months, but my mind told me to take a look at Kristen’s death in a deeper meaning. At first all I could think was, “Someone who was like my sister to me passed away. What else am I supposed to do but cry?” But as time passed, I started to realize how much impact she had on my life. Kristen taught me a very valuable life lesson I will never forget. It is to live your life with no regrets. We’re all human. Of course it won’t be a good day everyday. But that shouldn’t stop us from living our lives. Be mad. Cry. Smile a little more than yesterday. Laugh until your stomach hurts. I believe that as long as you don’t regret the actions you take, or the emotions you feel, then that defines the true meaning of fully living your life. That is the way Kristen lived her life, and it made me want to live my life just like how she experienced it.
A day still hasn’t passed without thinking about her. I have a bulletin board filled with pictures of her which is the first thing I look at every morning when I wake up. In 7th grade, we used to write long notes to each other all time. I still continue to write. I believe that she reads all the letters I’ve written for her. In those letters, I tell her certain things I would never be able to tell to other people. Losing someone special like her was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through, but I’m happy to know that she is no longer suffering. Although I miss her greatly, I don’t think I can ever thank her enough for helping me come to these realizations.