Bouncing Back

October 2, 2008
By
The scene outside was one of orange and gold foliage. Fall was rapidly approaching as the cold, wind-swept September air began to move into New England. Gazing out of the hospital window in wonder, her reality began to sink in. The only thing she could hear was the muffled cry of her mother, who was outside in the hall speaking with the doctor. Jessica B. had been re-diagnosed with leukemia, and she was informed that unless a match was found for a bone marrow transplant, her life expectancy was six months.
Growing up in Boston, Jessica was destined to be a Patriots fan. She lived with her mother, Janice, in a small apartment on Tremont Street. Working night and day, Janice provided for her daughter, who had grown into a beautiful, intelligent girl. No ordinary fan, shopping for clothes was never on Jess’s Sunday agenda during the Patriot’s season. Ever since her uncle had taken her to a Patriot’s game when she was eight, her only activity on those Sundays was sitting in front of a television with her Tedy Bruschi jersey. She had fallen in love with the team, and it was a bond that could not be broken.
Now fifteen, her life ticked away with every second. Jessica did not have any siblings, making a bone marrow match almost impossible to find, but she remained optimistic. Hopping out of her hospital bed, Jessica ran to the calendar on the wall, realizing that there would be enough time for her to see every game of the Patriot’s 2007-2008 season. A smile overcame her face, for the first game of the season was the next day. She said to her mother, “Get me out of here! I want my recliner and my Pat’s blanket for the game, not this uncomfortable bed.”
Jessica was able to get home just in time for the game, and her spirits soared as she watched the Patriots defeat the Jets. With a twinkle in her eye, Jessica looked at her mother and said, “This season is going to be something special. I’m not sure what it is, but I have a hunch that it will be unlike any other.”
The Patriots won game after game, and her statement became a reality. On the last game of the regular season, Jessica jumped for joy, as did the rest of New England. The scoreboard read “38-35 Patriots.” The Patriot’s record that year was a feat that only one other team had ever accomplished; 16-0, simply amazing! Although the regular season had ended without Jessica finding a match, all she could think about were the playoffs!
After defeating the Jaguars and the Chargers in the playoffs, the Pats were on their way to Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Arizona. Opening her front door as the final seconds ticked away in the AFC championship game, Jessica let out a scream of delight. All of the dogs in the neighborhood began barking boisterously, and Jessica’s mother, who had dozed off on the couch, awoke in a scare.
“Jessica, what’s wrong? Are you alright?”
Jumping up and down with a huge grin on her face, she yelled, “The Patriots are going to the Super Bowl!”
The next day, Jessica answered the phone, and it would be a call that would change her life forever.
“Is this Jessica B.?” the caller asked.
“Yes it is, who’s calling?”
“This is the ‘Make A Wish Foundation’. We wanted to tell you to pack your bags, because you’re going to Super Bowl 42!”
Dropping the phone in astonishment, Jessica began screaming and dancing with her mother, who had tears in her eyes for her daughter.
Three days before the big game, a private jet flew Jessica and her mother to Arizona. As she stepped off the plane, a man asked curiously, “Jessica B.?”
It was Jessica’s favorite player, Tedy Bruschi. In shock and awe, she ran up to Tedy and gave him an enormous hug. Tedy, who had faced physical difficulties of his own when he had a stroke, understood what Jessica was going through. He spent the rest of his day with her, playing catch on the field, as well as creating a friendship through personal experience. At the end of the day, he asked Jessica “How would you like to watch the game on Sunday with Mr. Kraft?”
Speechless, it was visible that Jessica was happier than ever before in her life.
Before Tedy left, he said to Jessica, “You are the bravest girl I have ever met, and I’ll make sure we meet again.”
Hugging Tedy as if she was making a tackle, she said to him, “Good luck tomorrow!”
On Super Bowl Sunday, Jessica and her mother were escorted to the owners box. Trembling with anticipation, Jessica met Robert Kraft, the Patriot’s owner, who would greatly enjoy Jessica’s warm spirit that night. Sitting together, they watched the game as if there was no other purpose in life but to be a Patriot’s fan. At half time, Jessica began singing along with Tom Petty, bringing a laugh to Mr. Kraft and all of those in the box. Janice, looking at her daughter’s smile, realized that it was a smile no cancer could ever take from her.
As the final seconds of the game ticked away, the Patriots were down to their last drive. Realizing that this game would belong to the Giants, Jessica thought of her own chances at winning her battle against cancer. At that moment, time froze. Looking at the team she had been inspired by her entire life, she understood that chance drove the Patriots to believe in themselves and win three Super Bowls, and that she had a chance to live. Even though the Patriots would not win every game, they would always fight to the end. Believing in her chance of finding a bone-marrow match, Jessica knew that she, just like the Patriots, would come back next season, ready to battle once more.





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