Will Rogers once said, "We can't all beheroes. Somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by." My bestfriend, Courtney, makes me proud to be the one sitting on the curb.
Thispast summer, Courtney was always sick. She was in and out of doctors' offices,but they told her nothing was wrong. Her back hurt; she was tired; she wasbreaking out and had bladder problems. They blamed it on mono and on anotherinfection. Somehow, though, they convinced her not to worry: she wasfine.
On the second day of her senior year, we found out that Courtney wasnot fine. Her belly was swollen. It looked like she was three months pregnant.Her eyes were turning yellow and she was in pain. Her mom took her to the localemergency room where they rushed her to Children's Hospital ofPhiladelphia.
There, Court was diagnosed with Wilson's Disease, a fairlyrare, genetically caused illness that damages and sometimes destroys the liver.
Courtney's liver failed the day after she was admitted to Children's. Herfamily called to tell me she was sick. Her mom told me the severity of hercondition and how everyone was worried. I cried. Then she put Court on the phone.Before she even said hello, she yelled at me for crying. "You loser,"she said. "I hope you're not crying over me. Waste your tears on somethingmore productive. I'm going to be fine." We talked for half an hour aboutschool, sports and guys. I would never have known that she was in greatpain.
I visited Courtney a lot during the weeks she spent in the hospital.Every time I went, she had more cards, teddy bears and balloons. People shehardly even knew were sending her things. Her friends and family came from as faras Califor-nia to see her.
For weeks, Courtney waited for a liver. Shecouldn't go to school. She couldn't play powderpuff football. She couldn't takepart in Student Government. She couldn't go to parties, work at her part-time jobor go shopping. But I never once heard her complain. She smiled incessantly andwas always in surprisingly good spirits. She never ceased to amaze me with herspirit that never died. She never asked, "Why me?" or wondered what shehad done to deserve to be sick.
Courtney is my hero because I saw her inpain. I saw her with jaundice. I saw her before and after her surgery and shenever stopped smiling. She was happy even when she had staples in her stomach andwas forced to accept the fact that she might never have the beautiful, flat bellyshe once had, due to the scarring. Court embodies the phrase, "She's atrooper." She was stronger than I could have ever been and, for that, she'smy Courtney, my angel, my hero.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.