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I remember the conversation that changed my whole perspective on difficult situations. My mom walked into my room holding the phone. Smiling, she handed it to me, mouthing one word, Larissa. I smiled hoping she wanted to hangout. I put the phone to my ear and said my hello. She answered a bit quieter than usual, but nothing to put me on edge. Then she said, “Payton, we need to talk. Can I come over?”

Not thinking much of it I told her sure. Within ten minutes the doorbell rang and I raced to answer it. She walked in smiling and care free. We headed to my room and shut the door. Sitting on my bed, she looked straight at me. Her next words crushed me.

“Payton,” she said smiling, “I am getting another surgery on my heart.” I stared. This girl. This girl who’d been through three previous heart surgeries, battled and overcome Leukemia, and had her teenage years ripped from her grasp, was sitting in front of me, with a half-smile on her face, telling me she was going back in once again.

“I, I thought the doctors had fixed everything. I thought you were okay,” I whispered choking up, a question in my eyes.

“This time,” she said her smile faltering only for a brief moment. “This time I will be all better.” Her smile gave me the strength I needed to hold the tears at bay and flash her a pathetic smile in return. “When is your surgery?” I asked.

“We leave for California in a couple of weeks,” she replied. “I am actually kind of excited. I get to go see my nieces and nephews.” I had to grin at that. “Plus,” she added, “We might go to Sea World. It’ll be worth it, especially if I can finally be better.”

I smiled, still a little wary and nervous for her. “Pay, it is going to be alright.” With a quick grin she added, “It might even be fun.” With that said Larissa stood up, gave me a hug, and left. I never forgot those words.

Since that day I have been a strong believer that good can be found in any and every situation. I have been in many and I always try to look for that one ray of sunshine I know can be found if I just open my mind and look. Larissa taught me that. Every situation I am put in I think of her example and of how it “might even be fun.”





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