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My First Best Friend -- Tony
Life, it’s such a complicated, beautiful, fragile thing. There are so many different aspects in just one life. Family, love, social, friends, and professional are just some of the sections that make up life. But, what do all these sections have in common? People. People you encounter throughout your entire life will come and go, but the special people you meet will stick with you and be apart of your life forever. I have met many people, but I have encountered very few special people. One of the special people in my life is a shy little blue-eyed girl named Tony.
Tony and I met when we were both three years old. However, the circumstances in which we met were not ordinary by any means. We did not meet at the park, or at school, but at County Memorial Hospital. We were both patients there; I was diagnosed with Leukemia, while Tony was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a severe nervous system cancer. We were both very sick little girls as you can imagine, so we were hardly ever allowed to leave the hospital. But that was okay, because we just happened to meet in the hospital hallway. My dad and I were most likely on our way to the cafeteria, I don’t remember exactly, when a bald, shy little blue-eyed girl and her mom spotted us in the hallway. Her mom came over to my dad and me and introduced herself and Tony to us. My dad then introduced himself and me to them. Tony has always been shy, and I just the opposite. As a result, when I was presented with the opportunity to have a new friend, I took full advantage of it. My outgoing personality allowed her to open up more and we became best friends instantly.
However, our illnesses did present a problem for our friendship. We couldn’t always see each other. But even at three years old, we were clever enough to figure out a way to still talk to one another. We got our parent’s to write a letter with everything we wanted to say to each other. After they were done writing down everything, we would each decorate the letter with stamps and stickers. Tony had this Barbie princess stamp she loved to use, but I wasn’t picky. When the decorating was done, we would send our parents as messengers to the other’s room. Sometimes we wouldn’t receive letters for days, but it was understandable considering the situation. It wasn’t the quickest or most efficient process by any means, but it worked for us.
When we did get to hang out, it was great. We would play with Susie, my stuffed horse, or color or use our imaginations and create mystical worlds and adventures. There is one time when we got to hang out that I remember distinctly. As I had mentioned before, we were hardly ever allowed to leave the hospital, especially Tony who had been there longer than me. Though, one Fourth of July day, Tony and I begged and begged our parents to let us go see the fireworks. It wasn’t up to them though it was up to the doctors. Miraculously, the doctors allowed Tony and me, accompanied with our mothers of course, to go outside of the hospital and watch the fireworks. We were so excited! I remember sitting on the concrete sidewalk next to Tony while we watched the fireworks. Bursts of green, red, blue and orange against the clear black sky, it was beautiful. Sitting there on the sidewalk with my best friend, laughing without a care in the world while watching the beautiful display, is probably one of my favorite childhood memories.
Most of my memories of Tony were happy ones, but they’re very limited, considering that I was only three years old. One of my most vivid memories of her is one of the last. It was sometime after the Fourth of July and I had written a letter to Tony a couple days before asking her if she wanted to come and play with me in my room. I kept asking my mom to go check if she had written back yet, I was so anxious to see her. Finally one day, I got a letter back. I opened it up and looked at it. It was a little crinkled, and it had Tony’s favorite Barbie princess stamp all over it in pink ink. My mom read it to me. It said something along the lines of, “Hey, this is Tony’s mom. Tony’s not feeling very well, so she can’t hang out today. But she wants you to know that she misses you very much and she really does wish that she could see you today.” There was more, but that was the only important part to me. After my mom finished reading it, I remember not understanding.
I tried being reasonable, hoping that it would work, so I told my mom, “Mom, she doesn’t have to come over here this time! I can go over there.”
Looking back on it now, I can see the absolute heartbreak and despair in my mother’s eyes. She replied with, “No sweetie. Tony is very sick. She can’t see anybody now.”
“How about tomorrow?” I asked, trying to outsmart my mom.
“Not tomorrow either.”
“Why not?” I said. I was such a stubborn, hardheaded, relentless little girl, I still am, but I just would not let it go. Why couldn’t I see Tony? My mom never answered directly.
In the following days, or weeks, I don’t remember when, but Tony died. I was three years old, and so was she. I knew nothing about death, despite living in a hospital. All I knew and understood was that my best friend was gone. Throughout the remainder of my stay at the hospital, I made other friends, and laughed, breathed and lived. Eventually I was cured and could venture outside the hospital walls, into the world to explore and live my life. I had the chance, an opportunity, which Tony never got.
I will admit, that following my escape from the hospital, I no longer thought about Tony as much as I once did. I continued living my life freely, making friends, laughing, and occasionally being bad. My new best friend Katie, had replaced Tony for the time being.
However, one day when I was ten years old, I had thought about Tony. I missed her. I remembered my parent’s mentioning something about making a sort of scrap book with Tony in it so I set out to find it. I went to the bookcase in search for it. I looked at all the books that covered the wooden book case, and they just looked like books, except for the very top shelf. At the top, there looked like there were a lot of padded binders like things, perfect for scrap booking. I dragged a stool from the kitchen so I could reach the top shelf. I grabbed the first navy blue binder that looked pretty full. I opened it up, and was disappointed. It had been just some medical notes and such things from my dad’s school. But I wasn’t going to give up yet. I grabbed the next binder and brought it to my lap. I opened it up to see a page full picture of Tony’s face. The first thing I noticed were her big, bright blue eyes. But then I noticed how her blonde hair had been trying to grow back from the chemotherapy, and how pale she looked. Yet she still smiled. How could she smile? Didn’t she know? There was writing next to her name italicized in navy blue print. I didn’t bother reading it, instead I turned the page. The next page did me in. The water in my eyes I had been holding in began to flood out. It was the last letter that I had ever received from Tony, Barbie princess stamp and all. Exactly how I remembered it. I cried for hours that day, and eventually cried myself to sleep. No longer would I forget about that girl, I told myself. She will forever have a place in my heart.
I have kept true to that promise. There will be days where I have to make a decision on a morally right or wrong level. Then I think about, I was given a second chance, I will not mess it up. I want to live my life not just for me, but for Tony because she never even got the chance. If she had, she would know more than anyone, how fragile life can be and not to take advantage of it.