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Author's note: I wrote the piece to give out the message that the worst things can happen in life, but you should always look at what you have rather than what you don't have. God has a plan for all of us, but we have to be daring enough to accept his plan. Will you accept what God has planned for you?
October 27, 1989
Dear mommy and daddy,
I haven’t written to you in forever it seems. The last letter I wrote to you was October 27, 1976. It has officially been one year since then. So many things can happen in a year and so many things have happened. Not all for the best. I have grown up a lot since I wrote to you last. I am not supposed to be writing to you. Aunt Marci says it only brings me down when I write and I never see a reply, but I don’t let her stop me. She may be my legal guardian and I know she only wants me to be happy, but she just can’t seem to say the right thing to stop me from writing to you.
Maybe the address was wrong. You guys move so much it is hard to keep up with where you live. First Boston, then Dayton, and now New York. That is a lot of moving around in only five years. Hopefully I have the right address this time. Tony says that you get my letters, but throw them away once you see that it is me. I don’t listen to Tony, though. He may be three years older than me, but he doesn’t understand. His parents left him when he was three. They left a note with his social security agents that said they had a bigger and better life to live without a retarded, messed up child to have to deal with. They didn’t want him, but I know you did, right? Aunt Marci said that you couldn’t have a child because of your mommy. That you were too young to have a child, and had to give me up for adoption. I understand I guess. People make mistakes in life, but I can only hope that you don’t think that I was a mistake. I bet you are looking for me just as hard as I am looking for you. Although you are the one who is moving constantly.
I have lived in the same house with the same brothers and sisters since I can remember. My social security agents had to have given you the address, right? Well I know that you will get this letter. You have to get this letter.
A lot has happened in a year. I have grown a little. Not much, but a little. I am also a year older. I am nine now. One year older than I was last year. I am in the fourth grade at Lincoln Elementary School. Well, I was at least I was. Aunt Marci says that I am sick and can no longer go to school. Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff are my adoptive parents. Last week I wasn’t feeling very well. Off and on throughout the week I had a fever. The fever would come and go then come again and leave again. I started having trouble breathing. Aunt Marci said that I was wheezing whenever I took a breath. Sometimes my diet would be normal and other times it would decrease. There were a few days last week were I only had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich the whole day and I still wasn’t hungry. My weight had dropped hugely. I overheard Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff talking last week. Aunt Marci suggested I go see a doctor. She thought that some antibiotics would help the fever and make me feel better. Uncle Jeff thought a little differently. He thought that it was just a cold or the flu. That I would be over it in a week or so. That there was nothing to worry about. Then they started talking about money and jobs. Boring stuff really. I know that we aren’t doing to well when it comes to pay day. Aunt Marci has never had a job. Having eight kids to take care of, it would become very hard to have a job and take care of all of them, especially when two of them are only three. Uncle Jeff started coming home sooner and sooner last month.
Everyone thought it was great. More time for him to play with us, but really he had got cut off some of his hours working at the factory. It has gotten to the point were Aunt Marci has had to start looking for a part time job; so has Claude. Claude is seventeen. He is my best friend. He has to be my favorite out of all of the other children in the house. Aunt Marci always gets mad at me whenever I say that. She says I shouldn’t have a favorite, but what else would you call him? Even though we are not from the same parents I still call him my brother and he still calls me his sister. Uncle Jeff didn’t want me to go to the doctor unless I absolutely had to, Claude told me after I overheard them talking. Claude said that money is tight and doctor bills are expensive. Claude said that he agreed with Uncle Jeff. That is was probably nothing to worry about. That I would get well soon and wouldn’t have to go see a doctor. Unfortunately both Claude and Uncle Jeff were wrong.
The fever remained, but this time more and more things started happening. Everything that was happening didn’t make sense and didn’t seem to go together I started to ignore everything. There would be times when it felt as if my heart was beating out of my chest at uncontrollable speeds. Whenever someone touched me the slightest bit my skin would bruise into a violent bluish purple. I felt more and more tired and weak. Aunt Marci and Claude started noticing a difference in my mood and behavior. Aunt Marci finally talked Uncle Jeff into letting her take me to the doctor.
Aunt Marci finally took me to the doctor. Once the doctor walked in, Aunt Marci told him what has been happening. He wrote something’s down and told us he would be right back. He told Aunt Marci to take me to the nearest hospital to get a chest x-ray. He said that from everything that she had told him, something not right was going on and before he made any accusations he wanted to be for sure. I remember the scared look on Aunt Marci’s face as we drove to the hospital. She knew that x-rays were not cheap and that Uncle Jeff would have a fit if they got one done and nothing turned up. We got there and they took my x-ray. The nurse said that they would call Aunt Marci when the x-rays came in. The next day I stayed home from school with a fever once again. The hospital called later that day with the results. The nurse said that Aunt Marci would have to bring me back for some more tests. The tests went on for hours it seemed. Each one more painful than the next. They took blood more than five times. I look down at my arms now and I see the big, black bruises left from the needles. Once the tests were done the doctor asked Aunt Marci and Claude to come back into his office. Uncle Jeff had to work and Claude wanted to go along to make sure I was alright. Now I think it might have been better if he stayed and heard the news like the others.
At that point I didn’t know what leukemia was nor did I know what acute lymphocytic leukemia was. While the doctor started explaining everything I could see Claude start crying. That was the first time I had ever seen Claude cry. In the past there has always been something that should have made him cry and I have always questioned why he hadn’t.
He said that it was because he had cried so much in his life already, that he was immune to sadness. Back then I hadn’t believed it to be true, but as the years passed and no tears ever showed up, I started believing he was right.
The doctor used big words that me, as a fourth grader, didn’t understand. I didn’t understand what leukemia was. He said that it was a cancer in the white blood cells. I knew what cancer was, but didn’t know the effects of cancer. Cancer has always been around, but over the years people have started getting more and more familiar with it. I know that now there are all of these different treatments that can be used to cure it, but the chances of living all together were still incredibly low. I didn’t know if I would have to go through the same treatments cancer patients have to since Leukemia is a type of cancer. The doctors said that I would have to stay here at the hospital for a while until I got better and could go home. Claude stayed with me while Aunt Marci went home to get our stuff. While Aunt Marci was gone I asked Claude what was going to happen. He said he didn’t know for sure. He knew that I would have to get treatments done to make me feel better. He said that soon hopefully I will be able to feel better and be able to have my treatments on an out-patient basis instead of being keep here at the hospital. When Aunt Marci came back she ha brought Uncle Jeff with her. Then the doctor who had helped me through the day came in and introduced me to my two nurses. They would be here to help me if I needed anything . After the doctor and nurses left Uncle Jeff and Claude said their good-byes and left. Aunt Marci stayed over night with me that night.
I better start wrapping this letter up. Aunt Marci is bringing everyone over once school is out to see me. She had to leave for a while, which makes things a little lonely, but I will be ok. The hospital isn’t that bad I guess. The bed isn’t as comfortable as my bed at home though. It definitely isn’t home, but it will have to do I guess.
I know you haven’t always been here for me. Well really you haven’t ever been here for me, but I understand. I hope that we can put all of the things that happened in the past stay in the past. I understand that you can’t be a mommy and a daddy to me right now, but we can still be friends, can’t we? I know right now is not the best time for me to want to start a new friendship. Having leukemia and everything, but hopefully I will be cancer free soon. I don’t want to make you feel like I am putting pressure on you or anything. I guess I would rather have a friend if I can’t have a mommy and daddy. I will take what I can get and hopefully you can be proud of me one day and want me.
Until then I hope you get this letter, so you can see how my life has been up to now. So you can still be a part of my childhood even though you aren’t really here with me. Please write back. I know you will. I can just feel it. You want to be a part of my life just as much as I want to be a part of yours. Hopefully this can be the start.
November 15, 1989
Dear mommy and daddy,
It has been nineteen days since I last wrote to you and still no reply, but I won’t give up. I will still believe that the letter will come. It probably got lost in the mail and the postal service has been working hard everyday trying to find it. Or maybe you are on a safari in Africa and it takes nineteen days for mail to get there, but you just got it and are planning on writing me back as soon as you rescue a baby lion. What ever the reason I would love to hear about it. I hope it is exciting because my life hasn’t been lately. It has been more depressing, really. Days at the hospital have been endless it seems. I can’t do anything! I get called out two or three times a day to get treatments or test, but other than that I really just sit and try to keep busy, which is extremely hard to do. Dr. Reed is my cancer specialist. He specializes on patients under the age of eighteen. We met a few weeks ago. He is really nice and talks to me like I am nine, not forty. He said that he knows what I am going through, my family included. He said that when he was twelve his little sister got diagnosed with leukemia. She was only six then. In the end she didn’t make it, but he knew right away that he wanted to make a difference. I asked him when I was going to stop having the symptoms I have been having. Ever since I have been here the same symptoms of having leukemia that I had before I came are still occurring.
He said that once I start my chemotherapy and get the medicine in my body that most of the symptoms will stop, but more will come. Once I have had chemotherapy for awhile the side effects from that will start to set in. Different things will start happening like stomach pains, vomiting, and losing my hair. None of that seems better than what is going on now. He said it is all in the steps to getting better and that he would be here with me every step of the way. Uncle Jeff and Claude came by the other day and brought a bunch of my toys and stuffed animals. My bed sheets are the same ones I had on my bed at home and so are my pillows. Dr. Reed told me that I need to stay as comfortable as I can and try to feel as if I were at home, but very clearly I am not. The hospital smell is what drives me nuts. It is very nauseating. I don’t know how much more I can stand of that, but sadly I am only nineteen days in, on a long journey that will take at least two years maybe three. That is what Dr. Reed predicted, but he hopes that I wont be in the hospital for all of that time. He hopes that in a few months or so I will be at home on an out patient basis. He said that definitely it would take a good two and a half years or so to finish my chemotherapy.
Ok, I think that is enough of the sad stuff. I wanted to tell you about me and about my life. I know that in the past I have included a lot of what I am going to tell you now, but since it seems as though you haven’t received any of those letters I am going to have to start all over and tell you my life story. It is not very interesting, I will tell you that, but it is my life and the only thing that I would change in it would be you. I would want my real mom and dad to be my parents. As much as I love Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff, living with you and being a family is what I want most and what I would definitely change.
First, I would like to introduce my family. You know Uncle Jeff and Aunt Marci. You meet them when they took custody of me. They are really nice people. Although for some reason I have never been able to call them mom and dad like some of the other kids do. I guess I know that you are out their somewhere waiting for me, trying to find me just like I am trying to find you. It feels like I am betraying you if I were to call them mom and dad. So, for me, along with Claude and Tony, they remain Uncle Jeff and Aunt Marci. They raised me, as you would of expected. I am not fully grown yet, but so far they are doing a pretty good job. I hope you don’t mind me talking about them. I just thought you would like to know that they are treating me well. I am lucky you know. A lot of other foster kids have to live with a lot more kids and not as nice guardians. I wouldn’t even call them parents or aunts or uncles because they don’t really take care of the children. Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff are different.
Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff started taking in foster kids three years after they got married. When Aunt Marci was nineteen she found out she couldn’t have kids, so she decided to adopt when she got married. It started out with just one, Thomas, his real parents were only teenagers when they had him and couldn’t afford to keep him. Now Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff have eight kids that live with them, but nine all together. Thomas is now in college. He is a junior this year up at Miami University in Oxford. He is training to be a science teacher. Claude is next, unfortunately. He is seventeen and is finishing up his senior year in high school this year. Then he is off to either Ohio State or New York, both well known schools for medical. He hasn’t decided which one he wants to go to yet. He said he doesn’t want to move too far away from me.
Once he gets out of college and gets a job he said he wants to adopt me for his own. He said we can live together and he can raise me. We really get each other. As much as he looks and acts like a rock on the outside he is really slimy and mushy on the inside. Aunt Marci says all of the time that we act just like we are blood related. She wishes that all of her kids would act like that to one another.
The next oldest is Tracy she is sixteen. She got adopted when she was twelve when her mother died in a car accident and her father was not well equipped to take care of her. Tracy and I have been getting really close lately since now I have to have someone with me at all time watching over me. Tracy acts like she doesn’t have a life and doesn’t mind taking care of us when Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff are away, but I know Tracy really cares. She is just too sweet and kind to say no. She knows that we are going through some hard times right now, not to mention the new doctor bills that are piling up. She knows that they can’t afford a babysitter, so she gives up her spare time to watch me at the hospital when Aunt Marci has to go home. So far she has already been watching me a lot.
Todd just turned thirteen. He may drive me crazy every now and again, but he really isn’t that bad of a person. His parents were performers. They were getting ready to move to New York when they gave Todd up. They wrote a note to Todd’s social security agent that said they don’t have the time to take care of a retarded, messed up child. They gave him up for adoption and moved to New York. Although they never really got famous. They did a few shows and when the crowds started to thin out the producers cut them and gave the job to someone who is better.
Todd is not mentally retarded at all. He actually gets straight A’s, but his memory isn’t the best. I tend to think Todd is better with us than with his monster birth parents. He is with people who love him now and that is all that matters.
Kara and Hailey are just like Claude and I. They stick together. I guess when they first came into the family they just connected like Claude and I. Kara is eleven and Hailey is ten. Right now they are obsessed with dancing, a week ago they were obsessed with Barbie dolls. Hailey said that I could have some of her old barbies since she doesn’t use them anymore. Her grandmother sends her toys on her birthday. They both came from the same situation. Their dad wasn’t in the picture and their mom died giving birth to them. They had no one else, so they got put up for adoption. Hailey has a grandmother, but she is too old to take care of a child. She stills tries her hardest to be a part of Hailey’s life though.
The latest addition to our family are Melanie and Landon. They are twins! I was only six when they came into the family and I had never really seen twins before. I was excited because we hadn’t had any new members join our family for awhile. I am still not sure what I like about having a big family. I guess it might be the variety of people. Although I did like it when it was just the seven of us. I don’t know Melanie and Landon that much. For some reason Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff haven’t told us Melanie and Landon’s story yet. Although we haven’t really asked. Usually when someone new comes into the family they always introduce the new person and tell us their story.
I love everyone in our huge family, but even with eight siblings it gets lonely sometimes. I guess it is just the fact that they aren’t my real brothers or sisters. More like my friends rather, then my siblings. It is ok though, I guess. Our house is interesting to say the least. You never get bored. Then again being at the hospital can be pretty boring even when Tracy is around. I would much rather be home. I am not saying she is boring or anything, but lets just say she can be. She is a teenager and I am a kid. We do not think alike. Which makes me wonder why Claude and I are so close. He is a teenager too. I am not sure. I guess I am going to have to get back to you on that one.
I have some questions I would like to ask you. Honestly I have been dying to ask you some of these my whole life. I was afraid at first, of you not really caring and not answering them. If they make you uncomfortable I can understand. They would make me kind of uncomfortable. But please try to answer them.
1). Did you want to have kids when you found out you were having me?
2). Do you have kids now?
3). Do you miss me being around? I know I wasn’t with you long, but I know I would miss my kids if they weren’t with me.
4). What is your life story? I have been telling you mine. Now it is your turn. I bet you can tell me a lot! I need something to make me less bored.
Well for now I guess this is bye. Hopefully that lion is alright or they found the letter in the mail. What ever the reason your letter is not here I understand and hope it gets here soon. Please write back.
Your loving daughter,
Jeezabelle <3 <3
December 17, 1989
Dear mommy and daddy,
It has been thirty six days since I have wrote you last and still no reply from my first letter or second. I guess that lion is taking up more of your time than you thought it would, but surely the postal service would have found your letter by now or you have written another. It is ok, though. I know you are getting them and hopefully reading them if you are not writing back. Maybe it is too hard for you to. Hearing from your daughter you gave away when she was born. I understand, but you don’t need to be afraid or scared. I promise I will write back if you write me back. I won’t break your heart, promise.
I haven’t been feeling too well lately. Dr. Reed proscribed some medicine for all of the symptoms I have been having. It is suppose to take away the pain, but what it is really doing is making me more tired. He said that none of the medicine he will ever give me will work perfectly, but it is the best he can give me right now. The medicine helps with the pain a little, but I think it is more trouble than it is helpful.
For the past week all I have been doing is sleeping. That is basically it. Whenever someone stops into visit I am always asleep. Aunt Marci thinks I have my days and nights mixed up because everyday I sleep for hours and hours and hours, but then at night I stay up pretty much all night going to the bathroom.
The new medicine Dr. Reed gave me doesn’t seem to work well with my stomach. Forever it seems I have had stomach problems. It happens for no reason it seems. Certain foods just don’t work well with my stomach and whatever is in that medicine isn’t working well either. I don’t want to get into anything gross, but like I said before I think this medicine is being hurtful more than it is helpful.
Dr. Reed said that I can get my first chemotherapy done this Sunday. I am nervous, but excited because he said that if I respond well to the chemotherapy and all of the radiation that I might be able to go home. Dr. Reed had to be out of town at the hospital in Connecticut for the rest of the week, so he went over all that will be done before he left. He told Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff that on Sunday when they have the room ready for me that they would take me back just like they were to take me back for tests. Once I got back they will have me do various things to get ready for the therapy. He said to just follow what the nurse says and I will be fine. Once all of that is over he will put a doctors robe over me then I will lay down on a board connected to this machine. They will turn the machine on and put a protector mask over my face. He said that I should feel a sting of pain for the first minutes or so, but once I have gotten use to the feeling it, the pain should go away. Once it is all over with they will take me back to my room. Dr. Reed said that there is a number of things we need to watch for and things that are normal. He said that once we got back to the room the nurse will give us further instructions. He said that having rashes and welts on my body is completely normal and that they should go away after a couple of weeks.
Also having stomach cramps and vomiting is something that will most likely happen. Plus because of the medicine that is going into the chemotherapy it will leave me with the feeling of needing to go to the bathroom all of the time. I don’t like being sarcastic, but I am not sure how to respond to all of this. It is information overload, along with a big long list of things that most likely will be the after effects of chemotherapy. All things that don’t sound very appetizing.
I have never known someone who has or had cancer? I don’t know what to expect other than the small detailed summary of what is going to happen Sunday. Honestly I am scared. I know I have to be brave and realize that this is all going towards trying to make me better, but I don’t understand any of it. It is all foreign territory here and I am a little afraid to walk on it. Dr. Reed said that the first step is always the hardest, but once I get use to the feeling and the surroundings that I will feel fine and start to like getting chemotherapy done. Usually patients have it done every one to two weeks depending on how fast the caner is spreading. Dr. Reed said that we will have to play it by ear on my case. He said that I was lucky because they caught the cancer sooner than later.
Did you know that I want to be an author when I grow up? I have been thinking about that a lot lately. So far my journey has been filled with ups and downs. I was thinking that someday I want to write about my journey. I love to write. It is something that I have always loved. Whenever I need someone to talk to, I know that I can always go to my journal. I realize it can’t physically talk back, but it is always there for me and sometimes venting is all I need.
I have many dreams, but none is bigger than my dream of becoming an author. I have not actually ever wrote a whole book before, but I have wrote many short stories before. A lot of them were just stories that I wrote when I got bored, but I have written a few that were for school or judging purposes. I am only nine so having my work published is a little out of my league I understand, but if I keep writing then I know I will be a wonderful author when I get older.
Christmas is around the corner, literally. Sadly it seems as though I am still going to be at the hospital for Christmas. Aunt Marci doesn’t feel that it is right to keep me in the hospital for Christmas, but Dr. Reed said that he isn’t sure yet how the chemotherapy will work with me. All bodies are different and respond differently with the chemo and since I am having my first chemotherapy this Sunday they just felt it best if I stayed here. Aunt Marci tried to reschedule the chemo for after Christmas, but that is something that can not get rescheduled. It is ok, I guess. Aunt Marci said that everyone is going to come to me. Christmas isn’t about where you are anyways. It is about who you are with and if you are with people that love you whether they are birth related or not. I am, so I shall make this Christmas be the best Christmas.
Jeezabelle <3 <3 <3
January 4, 1990
Dear mommy and daddy,
It has been thirteen days since I wrote to you last and oh boy has a lot happened in those thirteen days! Something’s good and something’s not so good. I still haven’t gotten your letter. I am not going to let it get to me or let Tony get to me. He has been harassing me about writing to you ever since I started again. Even now, when everyone else is being extremely nice to me. I guess it isn’t really called harassment since it is coming from his heart. He cares for me that’s all and doesn’t want to see me get hurt. It is a sweet thought, but I think I can choose who I talk to and who I don’t. Anyway why would my mom and dad want to hurt me even more than I already am? I don’t think you would, right?
Christmas was a lot better than I thought it would be. Aunt Marci wasn’t too thrilled about having Christmas in a hospital, but she pulled it through and realizeed that it doesn’t matter where you are, only with who you are with. On Christmas day it was snowing outside. Seeing that we live in Cincinnati, it tends to snow a lot in winter. Something I most definitely do not like. Depression is something I have to deal with on a regular basis throughout winter. It seems that every winter because of the climate changes it puts me into a deep depression. Aunt Marci says that depression can be hereditary which means that you could be at high risk of being depressed if it runs in your family. De. Reed said that this winter will be a struggle for me with depression.
He said that with the dull and lifeless things around me I am liable to get into a depression state that I may not be able to find my way out of. He said that the key to getting better is staying positive and so far I have been pretty positive. I don’t think the depression has hit me yet, but I am noticing a difference in my behavior. I am not as cheery as I was before and I don’t smile as much. You would think that someone with cancer would never smile, but oddly enough I found myself smiling a lot through the first month or so of treatments. I am not sure why.
The first snow of the season came on Christmas eve. Aunt Marci said that it would be a white Christmas. I have never had a white Christmas before. It has always snowed before or after Christmas never right on Christmas. On Christmas eve grandma and grandpa Pense came to see me at the hospital. It was the first time they saw me since last summer. Grandma and grandpa Pense are Uncle Jeff’s mommy and daddy. They live up in New York, so they don’t get to see us as much as they would like, but when they do get to see us we all have a great time. They always come down to see us a couple of days the week of Christmas. This year we weren’t sure if they would be coming because grandma doesn’t like hospitals. She says that she tries to stay out of those places until she really needs to because it makes her think of death. At her age how could it not remind her of death? Plus the hospital has a maximum of ten people in a room at once. That wouldn’t be exceeding the rules, but it would be pushing it. In the end Dr. Reed talked to the nurses and made some adjustments and we ended up having our Christmas eve and Christmas day dinner in the cafeteria. It was actually pretty nice.
Grandma said the smell kind of freaked her out a little, but she loved seeing us. The nice ladies who make the food were nice enough to make us a special meal. The nurse that stayed with us said that most people were gone before of the holidays and the only people that were here were the ones who came here on an emergency basis. Even the people who were really sick left. We talked, ate, and played games, just like we were back home like last Christmas. Grandma and grandpa told me how proud they were of me. Grandma said that she definitely couldn’t be in my position. One, because she is afraid of hospitals and another reason because she wouldn’t be strong enough. She said that I am a fighter and I will not let leukemia get the better of me. I am strong and that I will beat this. Then she started crying. It was all quite sad because then she made Aunt Marci cry which made me cry. By the end of the night we were all crying. Yes, even Claude!
Seeing as though we were in the hospital for Christmas we couldn’t get a tree. Every year we usually get a real tree and put it in our living room. We spend a day dressing it up, putting lights and ornaments on. By the time we are usually done the tree is stuffed to the top with lights and every branch has a homemade ornament on it. The hospital has a big tree in the lobby that is nice and pretty, but that didn’t suit Aunt Marci. So, she went shopping the other day and brought back a tiny mini Christmas tree to put in my room. She said that with all of the moving around and treatments, plus the kids, no one had time to put the tree up this year. Everyone said that it wouldn’t be the same without my help putting the angel on top anyways. Also we would be here anyways Christmas day.
I was a little worried for a little while about Santa. I didn’t know if he knew where we would all be Christmas day or not. I asked Claude about it a couple of days before Christmas and he replied saying that Santa always know were his good children are. He has a magical gift and would get all of my presents to me before Christmas morning.
I woke up Christmas morning and to my surprise everyone, but grandma and grandpa were all cuddled up on my floor. Normally I don’t have anybody but Aunt Marci or Uncle Jeff spend the night with me, but last night I had everyone. I realizeed I must have feel asleep and by the time anyone decided to take me upstairs to my room it was late and they all decided to just sleep here. I was the first one up. That seems to be happening a lot lately. After my eyes drifted away from the sleeping bodies on my floor my eyes went straight to the little, mini Christmas tree that was seated on the dresser. Underneath the tree were tons of presents, too many that they wouldn’t all fit on the dresser. There were some on the floor underneath the tree too! Before I could do anything else I heard a knock on my door. I looked over and grandma and grandpa were standing in the doorway smiling. They said they knew I would be up because I passed out around eleven last night while the others stayed up until at least two. Once everyone was awake we opened the presents. Each of the kids got four presents! It is a ritual in our family that we all have to pick someone else to buy a gift for. I bought one for Tracy. We all got one from Aunt Marci, one from Uncle Jeff, one from grandma and grandpa, and one from each other. We all opened our presents.
I got a Disney necklace from Alice in Wonderland from Aunt Marci, a drawing set from Uncle Jeff, two movies and a coloring book from grandma and grandpa, and three new books from Tony. All things that can keep me occupied while I am here at the hospital.
At around five we had our Christmas dinner. Once again the cafeteria ladies made dinner especially for us. Grandma and grandpa brought a cake. We had a good time and I really enjoyed having grandma and grandpa here. They stayed here until Wednesday and then went back to Pennsylvania . All in all I actually had a really good Christmas. Yes, it was spent in a hospital, but who ever said that spending your Christmas in a hospital was a bad thing. I sure didn’t. I hope your Christmas was just as grand!
I had my first chemotherapy done a week before Christmas. I was scared at first, but once it was over with I forgot why I was so scared in the beginning. I guess it was just jitters of the unknown. Not knowing what was going to happen, but oddly enough everything that Dr. Reed told us was going to happen did. The chemotherapy didn’t hurt it just stung at first a little. After a while I got use to the feeling. In a way it felt refreshing kind of. I know I am sick and the radiation and the chemo is going to help me feel better…….hopefully. The chemo itself wasn’t that bad. Like I said it didn’t hurt, but the after effects were brutal I will say that. My hair started thinning after only my first time having chemo done! When I took my bath and when I woke up the next morning, huge chunks of my hair were left in the drain and on my pillow. I didn’t sleep at all for two days straight it seemed. I would finally get to sleep and a few hours later I would wake up feeling like I was going to get sick or my stomach would start hurting, or I would need to go to the bathroom.
The medicine that is in the chemo makes me have this feeling were I need to go to the bathroom all of the time. It is quite unwanted to say the least.
A couple of days after the chemotherapy I was feeling horrible. The vomiting stopped occurring as much, so did the feeling of needing to go to the bathroom, but what I was left with was just as bad. I started running a fever of 100.3 and no matter what it wouldn’t go back down. Dr. Reed said that I had been doing good with keeping my fevers down. He said it as if I had any control over the whole thing, which I don’t by the way. I felt sick. I don’t mean cancer sick, in that case I know I am sick, but if felt like I had a cold or the flu. Nothing life threatening, but something most people would go see a doctor to get some medicine about. Aunt Marci was afraid it had something to do with the chemotherapy going wrong. She thought my body was acting up because of it. Dr. Reed came to check up on me. He said that it was completely normal. Most people with leukemia get tons of infections and viruses. It just happens. He said that I would get some medicine, on top of the other medicines that I am taking, and soon I will feel better and my fever will go down. He also told Aunt Marci to be watching me careful because just because he said that it is common doesn’t mean that it is ok. Many leukemia patients end up getting worse due to infections and viruses. Sadly, he said that this comes with the territory. I will be getting a lot of viruses while I am sick, because of my bodies immune system. It is weak from the cancer and any little viruses that is in the air I can catch extremely easy. I have to stay as healthy as I can so I can get better soon.
Hopefully I will get better soon. First I have to get rid of this virus. So, hopes and prayers.
Jeezabelle <3 <3 <3 <3
February 27, 1990
Dear mom and dad,
It has officially been four months that I have been in the hospital! Isn’t that crazy? I think it is. Whoever thought that I would have to spend four months of my life living in a hospital at a point were I can’t even get out of bed I am so weak? I sure didn’t, but I believe God did. I believe that God makes the world spin around. That he sits up in heaven all day and plans everyone’s future. When he is all done for the day each and every person on the planet will have their life story recorded in a book all to themselves. It might sound crazy, but I believe that this was Gods plan. Everything is Gods plan, that is why people are on this earth today. I am not sure why God put me where I am today, but I intend to find out. Lately I have been looking towards God. I have not always been that church girl who goes every Sunday, or the girl who carries around her bible all day, but that doesn’t make me a bad person. All my life I have tried and tried to be the best person I can and in the end of the day I think that is all that matters. Maybe going to church a lot more could help some too. God has always been a part of my life, but never as big as it should have been. Having a big family, it tends to get kind of crazy on weekends, but that is not an excuse to why I haven’t been going to church every Sunday. I am nine and most nine year olds sit in church and try to annoy their parents enough until their parents can no longer take it and leave. Nine year olds don’t understand why it is important to go to church and to listen. I was no different. I didn’t understand why it was important.
I realized that it was good to go, but in other words it was boring and I definitely did not understand it. I guess after I said that I just kind of gave up on trying to understand. That is where I found a dent in the road. Now that I understand what everything means, and understand God, I am stuck in a hospital under lock and key. For awhile I have wanted to go to church and I have asked a couple of times to go, but I get the same reply every time. Aunt Marci always looks to Dr. Reed and once their stare is broke she always says she thinks it is too much of a risk. That someone might be sick and they might get me sick. I am not sure that is a good enough answer, especially when Dr. Reed doesn’t say anything. If he were to think it was a bad idea then he would probably say something, instead of just letting Aunt Marci decide. I am not sure what her more dominant reason is, and I am not sure if I want to know. I want to be a better Christian, but I am at loss when it comes to finding out how to do that.
Last week I got another virus. Seeing as though I am in a hospital with a bunch of sick people, I wouldn’t find that uncommon. I would think that being at home where people aren’t sick all the time would help me stay a lot healthier. I am sorry I am being cocky, It just seems as though I can never win because what Dr. Reed is looking for now is my fever to go down and stay down and for me to be virus free for at least twenty-four hours. My bone-marrow tests came back alright and my blood count is just fine. All of that means that after I stay fever free they have no other reason to keep me in the hospital and that is exactly what Dr. Reed said when we talked to him the other day.
He said that he will be watching and as long as I stay fever free for twenty-four hours I am free to go home! As long as I stay fever free and everything is going ok I can continue my treatments on an out patient basis, which means I can stay at home and go to the hospital when I have appointments. Hopefully tomorrow or the next day I will be home in my own bed. I have been a little cranky from being away from home. Things can get pretty boring in the hospital and being home would just make it easier on everyone. I am hoping for the best!
The worst part about going through chemotherapy has to be losing your hair. It is something no one wants to have to encounter in their life. Ever since I started chemotherapy my hair got thinner and thinner. Every morning after I had chemo done I would wake up to a new chunk of hair on my pillow. It is very disturbing and gross because it doesn’t look like real hair. It doesn’t feel like real hair either. That is because it got fried off from all of the chemicals in the chemotherapy. Weeks ago I got tired of dealing with it and told Aunt Marci that I want it cut off, all of it cut off. She looked at me like I was crazy. She would of thought that I would want my hair until the last strand of if feel out. That is not exactly how I feel though. It is all going to come out one way or another sooner or later, so why not get rid of it now? I thought it would look better with it all cut off then having big chunks of bald spots. I was right. Aunt Marci took me to the hair salon a couple of weeks ago and asked the lady to shave it all off. The lady was surprised, that was until she saw all of the bald spots. She ended up guessing that I had cancer.
Claude came with me to get it done and got his hair cut off too. Even though he hardly had any to begin with it is still the thought that counts. It is incredibly weird looking into a mirror now or feeling the breeze on my head. It is shocking really, but I try to forget about it and think positive.
Lately depression has been my problem. I know exactly what depression is, but trying to explain it is a problem. Winter is always full of depression for everybody because of the weather. It snowed off and on all throughout January and much of December. When it wasn’t snowing it was cold and dull. Two words that I wish I never had to hear again. I haven’t been outside much since I got diagnosed with leukemia, but every time someone comes to visit they always comment on how cold and dull it is outside. Dr. Reed said that depression is the feeling of hopelessness and despair. Two things that I definitely do not need. Like Dr. Reed said before I have to stay positive and happy for as long as possible. My only wish is to be out of the hospital in time for spring. Being outside is what I need. I need to see the sun and all of the beautiful flowers that take up my garden. I need the color to be put back on the plants and the earth to be reborn. Maybe I can be reborn also and have a new refreshed feeling. I can see a change in my future, but I can only hope that it comes sooner than later.
Wish me luck!
Jeezabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
March 16, 1990
Dear mom and dad,
It is only the beginning of March, so there is a slight chill in the air left over from a painful winter. Most of the flowers haven’t quiet bloomed yet, but I can see the anticipation of a new, beautiful garden this spring. The air smells nice and clean. Being cooped up inside all winter I was glad to finally have a nice day so I can come out and sit on the porch swing and just breathe. I am not sure if it is the leukemia or if it is the depression that has left me in such a revolting mood. Dr. Reed said months ago that this past winter would be the worst. That the cold air would chill my aching bones, that the lifelessness around me would rip all of the life out of me. He said that most people get depressed during winter. It is extremely dull and lifeless. All things that would make someone depressed. He said that I would most likely get hit with it ten times worse since the only thing I have to look forward to is more leukemia. It seems as though I did. I have always disliked winter, but never as much as this winter. I like the breeze and the sun and the cool refreshing rain of spring. I like sitting out on the porch watching as the flowers become reborn and the earth wakes up again. Winter reminds me of death. I think it reminds me of this because it is so lifeless. The trees are bare and so is the color. It makes me think of Alice in Wonderland when I think about color in the world. I think back to the little cards who would paint the roses on the trees a pretty, bright red. They must have forgotten to paint our roses and our color because around here it is gray all through winter.
Spring reminds me of life because it seems everything winter killed comes back to life to mock winter. Things get reborn again and the color returns to the roses and nature. The world is alive and I feel alive in spring. I feel like I am a puppet in the winter. No, not even that. A puppet has warmth. I feel like a paper bag. You know the one kindergarteners cut holes in to make paper bag puppets. I feel like that. That I am not in control of my body. Although it doesn’t really matter since I am barely doing anything, but whenever I am doing something I feel gone. Lost in winters dark, cold hole. I know this sounds depressing and all, but lately I haven’t been one to sugar cote anything, especially my feelings.
Aunt Marci could tell how depressed I was. So could Claude. He seems to always know when I am feeling down and he always finds the right things to say. Whether it is just as simple as “Spring will be here soon,” or “Cheer up!” He always seems to make time for me even when he has no time to spare. Aunt Marci suggested we all take a vacation to somewhere warm. Seeing as money is extremely tight, even when everyone who can work is working. We just can’t cut it, I heard Uncle Jeff say one night. Aunt Marci knew it. Everybody knew it, but I still hoped. Instead of going to Florida for a week. Over winter break we made a resort and vacation right in my hospital room. We made forts as tents and made smores in the microwave that is down the hall. Everyday we had an activity we had to do. Claude and Aunt Marci thought of them. Everyone had to participate. Everyone had to act like they were really in the wilderness. No one was allowed to leave the hospital unless necessary.
The nurses were extremely lenient on letting us take up so much space. I was lucky to have such a big room since everyone slept in makeshift tents scattered around my floor while I slept in my bed. Even Uncle Jeff wasn’t cut any slack. Although we did catch him trying to leave the hospital one night. He said he had to get some socks when he had perfectly good ones in his bag. We punished him by hanging a pair of his underwear on a pole overnight. Todd said he went to this camp when he was six and if you got their team in trouble the other team members would hang your underwear outside on the flag pole for the night. The vacation was fun for awhile. It really got my mind off of some things, but as soon as it all ended and everyone had to go back to school the depression came back.
I have very exciting news. On the ninth, exactly two weeks after I wrote your last letter I got to leave the hospital. I got to leave the old, boring hospital room that for the last five months I called my home. I got to go back home and sleep in my own bed for the first time in forever it seemed. It felt nice to be home. It felt normal in a way, like I wasn’t some freak of nature having to stay locked up in a hospital all of her life. For a minute there I think I forgot what my roomed looked like, but the minute I stepped foot in it I knew exactly where I was, I was home. Only after two hours of being home Aunt Marci said that it is more stressful being home than it was being at the hospital. Truthfully it is, for her anyways. It makes me feel so bad watching her wait on me hand and foot at everyone of my little needs, but she insists and Dr. Reed said that I should take it easy. Well easier than I had when I was at the hospital anyways.
Dr. Reed gave Aunt Marci a huge list of things that she should do everyday and night. Also he gave her a big list of things she shouldn’t let me do and what things she should be looking for incase something might start to go wrong in my body. I still am on a lot of medicine, which means there are a lot of side effects that goes along with each medication. If any of the signs for side effects start to happen then I will need to go back to the hospital.
My first night back was rough. It took too long in my option to readapt to being home. I spent most of the night lying wide awake in my bed while everyone else, including Aunt Marci, lay fast asleep. I have a baby monitor next to my bed in case I need anything during the night. At around two in the morning I needed to use the bathroom. At the hospital I would have pressed a button that would tell a nurse that I need her assistance, but seeing as though I wasn’t at the hospital I had no button to press. Aunt Marci said that if there was anything I needed at all, ever that I just need to yell for her. During that day whenever I needed to use to bathroom or needed something I would just call for her, but it was night and the first time Aunt Marci had a good nights sleep in her own bed for a long time. Almost as long as me. I didn’t want to disturb her sleeping. I thought back to what Dr. Reed said about moving. At the hospital I pretty much stayed in bed unless I wanted to play in the playroom. Throughout the day I stayed in bed. I remembered back to what Aunt Marci said about letting her help me if I needed something, because she doesn’t want me to fall or drop something and get hurt. I knew that the bathroom was only across the hall and Aunt Marci was sound asleep.
Waking her would be cruel I felt. Let her sleep, I thought. So, I went to the bathroom by myself. I was a little wobbly at walking because I hadn’t walked much all day, but I made it to and from the bathroom all right. I am not helpless I realized. Aunt Marci does too much and since I can do a lot of the things she thinks I can’t, I realized I should start depending on myself a lot more while I am at home. It isn’t the hospital where there are people who get paid to take care of me. It is there job. Here Aunt Marci is getting paid nothing, she does all of the things she does because she has to and because she wants to take care of me. That is her duty as a parent, but that doesn’t mean you should take advantage of that. That is what I felt I was doing, taking advantage of her. Although she wouldn’t have said that in a million years. She would of said that I needed the help and once I was better and she was getting into her old ages I could have my chance to help her when she needs it.
Sadly my time being home got cut short due to a fever that occurred three days later. Aunt Marci had already scheduled me to see Dr. Reed about it the next day when dizziness started to occur. When we went to the hospital to see Dr. Reed he said that Aunt Marci made the right choice on bringing me in here because I had another virus. He had told us before we left the hospital to go home that it might seem like your house is a lot more sanitary and germ free than being in a hospital, but it really isn’t. Having five kids at the house that go to school is a big decline to how sanitary the house is. Kids that go to school bring home more germs everyday than if someone were to touch a toilet seat. Kids that get sick usually get it from someone else at school who is sick too.
Even if someone at home didn’t get sick from the germs brought home from school, I might get the germs and get sick since my immune system is a lot weaker than most peoples. He said that I probably got the virus from someone at one of the kids school.
I had to go back to the hospital that night. The car ride back to the hospital after I had gotten all of my things once again was dreadful. I finally felt free. Well as free as a girl with leukemia can feel. Going back to the hospital made me feel like we were back at stage one. Like we were right back in October again, when I got diagnosed with leukemia. It is not a happy feeling I can tell you that. So, now I am back in the hospital. I got a different room though. That is a plus I guess. This room is a little nicer. The bed is near the window and the window is facing the park across the street not the road like my other rooms window was. I can look out and watch the kids play at the park. It is sad to watch them because they don’t even know. They don’t know about what they need to be worried about. They don’t know what me and other kids like me are going through. Honestly if I weren’t going through this I wouldn’t have known either. It is not their fault. Parents explaining to them about cancer and worries would only make them worry more since there is no easy way to explain to a kid what cancer is and why you should treasure your life because one day you might not be able to go outside and run around and play. You might be trapped in a hospital like I am. Occupied by nothing other than my heartbreak of watching kids like them run around carefree in the park.
I am sorry I am talking like that. I guess I am just a little bitter from being put back in the hospital once again.
I knew in my right mind that I most likely wouldn’t be able to stay at home for long, but in the back of my brain I still had that little hope that I would be able to stay home for good. I will stay positive now. That is the best thing to do when you are in a situation like I am in. Think positive thoughts and stay strong. A little bit longer and I will be fine, that is what I keep thinking. A little bit longer and I will be fine. All I can do is hope that is true.
Hugs and kisses,
Jeezabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
April 3, 1990
Dear mom and dad,
The days keep on dragging on forever it seems. Everyday gets lost in the never endless days of boredom. My life seems dull and boring. I know that might sound crazy to you, you know with the whole cancer thing, but I really is. I can’t do anything that I use to love to do like play with my friends. Now all I do is read the same books I have read over three times before, color in my princess coloring book, or write more. Although there is the option of going down to the play center down the hall, but everything there seems boring to me now. If I were home I could at least go outside and sit. I could enjoy the beauty of spring, but since I am stuck in the hospital once again, I am fearful that I may not get the chance to enjoy springs joys. Now that spring is officially here I can breath cleaner air, but it would be a lot easier if I could get out of this jail cell. Ever since I had to come back to the hospital again I have been a little bitter about it. I know Dr. Reed feels he is doing the right thing by keeping me here, but it seems as if he is too precocious. Lately I have been feeling pretty good. My blood cell counts are up and I haven’t had an infection in over a week! Everything seems to be going very well, but Dr. Reed said that things will start getting worse soon. He said my blood cell counts are going to drop again because of the chemotherapy I will be getting done next week. Having chemotherapy done is starting to feel normal. The side effects, though, are still as brutal as they were when I first started getting chemo done. Now I am having chemo every week it seems.
Dr. Reed said that hopefully after this chemotherapy next week my counts will go back up soon. He said that my remission might be coming soon. I wasn’t sure what this meant when Dr. Reed first told me that. Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff got really excited when he told us, but seeing I didn’t know what it meant, I wasn’t as excited. I asked Dr. Reed and he said that the word remission can be used two way. One was is when the cancer is fully cured. When there are no cancer cells in the body anymore. The other way, which is what Dr. Reed was talking about for me, is when the cancer is at a controlled stage. They are no longer fighting the cancer, they have it at a stage where the chemotherapy and other treatments are beating the cancer. Once he told me this I got extremely excited, but then I got a little irritated because if I am near remission then why won’t Dr. Reed let me go home? I asked him and he said that until we are officially in remission he doesn’t want to take the chance of me getting another infection or virus. Once chemo is done next week and I have been doing well he said that we can talk about going home. I hope I get into remission soon because I don’t know how much longer I can take being cooped up here in the hospital.
All together we have ten people in our family. That is a lot of people, a lot of mouths to feed, a lot of bodies to put clothes on, and a lot of supplies needed to keep everyone healthy including me. I mean I knew that we were going through a hard time right now, and I am not talking about me having cancer. I am talking about financially speaking. I knew that we are bad off, but I didn’t know we are this bad off.
Uncle Jeff got fired last month from his job at the factory which he had been working at for over twenty years. Times are hard right now for everyone. The good thing is he found a new job, but the only bad thing is it is all the way in Indiana. Miles and miles from where we live. It would take him three hours to get to work and three hours back from work everyday if he were to stay in Cincinnati. Not to mention all of the gas money he would need to make that big of a trip everyday. So instead of driving six hours a day to get to and from work he decided to go and live with his brother that lives about a half an hour away from the factory he will be working at. He had a very long discussion about it with Aunt Marci. Obviously she didn’t want him to go, but he was desperate and she knew it. Only having one good pay check every week is bad enough, but spending weeks and weeks maybe even months and months waiting for a better option would put us even farther in debt than we are. So, Uncle Jeff left a couple of weeks ago to go live down in Indiana. He said he wouldn’t be long. Just until he found a better job, one closer to home. Having him gone is killing us all it seems. He is the man of the family. He is strong, not only strength wise, but emotionally wise. It is his job to support our family and that is what he is doing going to Indiana, but he keep us all together in a time where we were made to be apart. Now we only have Aunt Marci and frankly I am not sure if she is going to be enough. She is a incredibly strong woman, don’t get me wrong, but having eight kids to take care of. One being in the hospital, it is just too much for once woman to handle.
Although she is trying her best, her best might not be enough though. Ever since Uncle Jeff left Claude and Tracy have had to help out a lot more than they did before and they helped out tons before. They don’t mind being called on to help out, though. They are not like most teenagers their age. They have responsibility and are hard workers. They can’t go over to their friends house after school like most teenagers can. No, they have to go straight home and take care of Tony, Kara, and Hailey until Aunt Marci comes home from the hospital. Usually she leaves around four and stays home until nine then goes back to the hospital and stays over night with me. While she is home Claude usually comes to the hospital to keep me company. One good thing has come out of all of this so far. My relationship between Claude and I has only grown since all of this started. He is really the only person I can talk to about this. I talk to you, but even a piece of paper can’t ease out all of my feelings. I like talking to you, but it is not as easy talking to you as it is talking to Claude, but that is to be expected. I can tell Claude anything and he listens. He isn’t like one of those people who you think are listening and tell you they are, but never really do. He cares and he wants me to feel better. After I have talked to him and I usually do. I don’t know what I would do without Claude. When Aunt Marci comes back to the hospital and Claude leaves she bring the twins. I really don’t think they know what is happening. They are only three and all of this moving around is too much for them I think. Aunt Marci says that everyday when she goes home with the twins all they do for the first ten minutes of being home is cry and when they get back to the hospital they stop crying. It is like they think the hospital is home.
Ever since Uncle Jeff left, the hospital has felt like home not only to me, but to Aunt Marci. Every night she spends the night with me. Her and the twins. Like I said before, around four in the afternoon she takes them home with her and Claude comes over and stays with me. Then around nine she and the twins come back to the hospital and spend the night. It is all crazy really. Aunt Marci seems to be never home anymore. Really it must feel like Claude and Tracy are the parents over at home instead of Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff. I don’t personally know how it must feel. I can only guess, but it must feel something like that. Hopefully once I am going through remission I can be home and things will be a lot better. I just wish that day comes soon.
Keep me in your prayers and thoughts. Hopefully that day comes soon.
Jeezabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
May 20, 1990
Dear mom and dad,
The sun is high in the sky on this beautiful day in May and guess what. I am still in the hospital! That exclamation point wasn’t a happy exclamation point that was a incredibly sad and angry exclamation point. Being in the hospital makes me feel more sick than I actually am. People who are in hospitals this long most likely aren’t going to leave the hospital. They are just going to die because they are too sick. I don’t want to die! Dr. Reed has only been talking about how much better I am getting lately. He has said nothing about me dying, but being in this hospital makes me think otherwise. Like he is trying to tell me something by keeping me in here.
I have been in a horrible mood ever since I was told my remission was coming and it never happened. Nope, it didn’t happen. Yet. Yet, is the word Dr. Reed specifically used when he came in and told me the results of my last chemotherapy. I know my remission will happen or at least I hope so, but the more I think about being in the hospital the more I feel that day will never come. Dr. Reed keeps telling me to think positive thoughts, think positive thoughts, but that is incredibly hard thing to do when you have only negative things happen to you.
I hate talking about all of these negative things. Talking about not being in remission yet and the fact that I am still in the hospital just makes me thrive to get out of the hospital more. For now on I will start writing at least one good thing that has happened to me.
One good thing that has happened to me is that I got to see Lilly, Jackie, Paul, and Trevor! Jackie is Aunt Marci’s little sister. Paul is Jackie’s husband and Lilly and Trevor are there children. They live in Kentucky so we don’t get to see them much. Lilly is seven and Trevor is only five. They came on a weekend so Uncle Jeff was able to come home and visit too. On the first day that they were here Aunt Marci asked Dr. Reed if they could take me out of the hospital for the day so we can go to the festival in downtown Cincinnati. Dr. Reed said that was fine as long as I keep everything we do to a minimum. He said that I need some time out of the hospital and that this would be the perfect thing to get my spirits up. Also he gave Aunt Marci a long list of restrictions. At first it seemed like being out of the hospital with all of these restrictions would be worse than being in the hospital. I was afraid that Lilly and Trevor would get bored easy. That Jackie and Paul wouldn’t want to come back to see us as long as I was sick. It wasn’t like that at all. Aunt Marci made sure she planned everything out so that everyone would have fun. All of my restrictions were covered and before no time we were all having a blast. The festival was located beside the Ohio river. I had been there a few times, but I was little back then so I didn’t get to see much. They had dancers, rides, food, and live entertainment. Most of the baby rides I could do, but a lot of the bigger ones that Claude and Tony wanted to ride I couldn’t ride. It was ok though. Lilly and Trevor weren’t allowed on those rides either, so we mainly stuck with the little ones. After it got dark they had fireworks! I have only seen fireworks up close a couple of times. They got a little loud and overwhelming, so Aunt Marci had to cover my ears. It was a spectacular show.
They were all different colors, just like they are on July 4. After the fireworks were over with Lilly and Trevor were tired so we had to go home. Aunt Marci called the hospital to tell them I would be staying home tonight and they were actually ok with that! Everyone sleep in, but around noon Aunt Marci took me back to the hospital like she said she would. Uncle Jeff came to the hospital with the twins, Lilly, Trevor and Claude a little while later. He told Aunt Marci that this was her weekend off and that she should go show Jackie and Paul around town. He said that he would take care of the kids while she is gone. Uncle Jeff planned a fun day with us at the hospital. We had a scavenger hunt in the play room, we had a picnic outside the hospital, and we watched one of my favorite movies. We even asked Dr. Reed if he would like to join us on our picnic. He said he would love to. I had an extremely good weekend spending it with my family and friends.
Dr. Reed said that once I am home for a while and am doing pretty good I might even be able to go back to school! He said that might be awhile from now, but it is still something to look forward to. I haven’t been to school since the very beginning of the school year. It is crazy thinking about how much I have missed. I have officially missed eight months of school which is almost a whole year! Dr. Reed said that his goal right now is to get me into remission, but after that his goal is to have me back in school for the next school year. It is already May, so summer break is just around the corner which means we have around three months to get me well enough to go to school.
Dr. Reed said that was his goal, but is weary whether that goal is reachable since I am not even in remission yet and only have three months. Whether it is reachable or not we both are determined to at least try. If not, he wants to try to get me home schooled. It would let me work at a pace that is set by me and I wouldn’t have to be in an environment where it would be too overwhelming since I haven’t been in school for close to a year. Dr. Reed and Aunt Marci both think it would be best if I was home schooled, but I think differently. I may only be nine, but when it comes to school I know what I am talking about. I may not have been in school much this year, but a year is a lot less time being out of school than Dr. Reed or Aunt Marci have been. They haven’t been in school for many years. I feel like it would be good going back to school. I haven’t seen my friends in forever it seems. I wonder what everyone has been thinking, me being gone that is. I think everyone in the whole school knows what is going on with me. Aunt Marci had to go talk to the principal and my teacher about my situation at the beginning of the year when I hadn’t been going to school. I guess Ms. Burk told our class that I was in the hospital and had leukemia because a couple of weeks later I got a big, huge card the class sent me. It had everybody’s name on it with a note from Ms. Burk saying “Get Well Soon. We all miss you.” I wrote back telling them how I am and everything that is going on. Every month they write me a new letter and every month I write them one back. Letting them in on my life at the hospital and what is new with my leukemia. My friends have wrote me letters before, telling me how much they miss me and that whenever I get a chance to leave the hospital I should come to school and say hi.
I asked Aunt Marci when I get out of the hospital and back home if I could go and say hi to everyone at school. She said that if I get out of the hospital before school ends she will think about it. That is just another thing for me to make me want to be in remission sooner.
Lately I have been feeling a lot better, so hopefully remission will come soon. I long for a night to sleep in my own bed, but even more I long to go sit on our porch swing and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. I hope my flower garden is doing ok without me. It is a good thing mother nature is looking after it and watering it.
Jeezabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
June 25, 1990
Dear mom and dad,
I have got one word for you…………REMISSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had my fifteenth chemotherapy done last Sunday. While I was back getting my chemotherapy done everyone was out in the waiting room praying that remission would come this time. Thankfully their prayers and hopes ran true and after I had spent twenty-four hours recovering in the hospital the nurses took me back and ran some tests. Mostly the same tests that I get done every week or so. When I came back to my hospital room I fell straight asleep. When I woke up Dr. Reed was in the room talking to Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff. Once they noticed that I was awake they both started smiling. I could see Claude in the seat next to the window fast asleep. The sun had gone down and a bright, spooky, whole moon took it’s place. My eyes start to adjust to the darkness as I remember where I am. The same place I had been for months now. Dr. Reed then proceeded to tell me that I made it to remission! Now they can focus on beating the ccancer, not just maintaining it. Dr. Reed said my blood count was low, but that they would check it again in the morning when I was feeling a little better and then they would talk about sending me home.
The next day they took some more tests and around noon Dr. Reed came in again and discussed what the results were. He said that my blood count went up a little from last night, but not much.
He saw no signs of infections that could be infiltrating my body, so he said I was free to go home. Like before he noted that I might not be there for good. He said having ccancer is like a roller coaster, one you don’t want to be on. He said that you will make more trips to the hospital than you tie your shoes. So far he is right and guess what, on estimate I still have a little less than two and a half years before this is all over with.
Dr. Reed said that most kids with leukemia get into a remission stage a two or three months after being diagnosed. Sadly I was a little off. It took me eight and a half months to get into remission stage. Dr. Reed says that it just depends on when you go to the doctor and realize you have ccancer, how bad the ccancer is, and how strong your body is. Unfortunately I was at loss of about all of those things. Dr. Reed said that by the time I went to see a doctor the ccancer had already spread fairly well. He said that I might be strong at heart, but my body is weak and was weak to begin with. He said that when I get to my final months of growing that I wouldn’t be that tall either. I would be only around 5’4 or shorter. He pointed out that my ccancer right now isn’t as bad as it could be at my stage, but it doesn’t react as well to the chemotherapy and all of the treatments I am given. All in all so far my progress, ccancer wise, hasn’t been going so well. Dr. Reed said I was his tough case which scares me. How sick am I really? Do I even know how sick I am? Evidently not since I am asking that question. But right now isn’t the time to be worried, not yet at least. Right now is a time of celebration. I am finally back home, enjoying the beautiful summer world.
My first day back home was a little rough just like the first time, but everyone pulled through. I spent most of the day sleeping and when I wasn’t sleeping I felt nauseous. That is not something that is unusual. Just getting back from having chemotherapy done that is something that you feel a lot. When you don’t feel nauseous you are either vomiting, under extreme stomach cramps, body aches, headaches, or just plain tired. All things I wish upon no one on a daily basis.
The second day I was home was a lot better. I felt ten times better than the day before. Since I slept most of the day the day before, I was up practically at the crack of dawn. The sun had been in the sky for a couple of hours which was a good indication that it would be a good day today. I went down and had some breakfast then checked the thermometer outside the kitchen window. It was ninety-five degrees outside. A perfect day to spend outside on the porch. I checked in with Aunt Marci which in turn gave me this big lecture about how great it is being home and that she doesn’t want me to ruin it by doing something stupid that will end up putting me back in the hospital for the third time. She told me my restrictions and then I was on my way. I spent most of the day outside soaking up all of the suns rays. Leukemia patients are usually pale, being outside will do me some good. Once the sun set and I went inside Claude commented on how peaceful and happy I look being home. I am. I am a lot happier now that it is summer and I can enjoy it.
Another big thing happened this week! Can you guess? I don’t know if you remember or not, but yesterday was my tenth birthday! I don’t know if you remember or not, I can completely understand if you haven’t, but yesterday was my birthday. My tenth birthday to be exact. I have lived nine good years so far. I have never been one to get into birthdays. In a way I don’t understand why people make such a big deal about them. They are only a day once in every year that helps you count how old you are. Claude has always called me old when I talk like that. He says that only older people can say that they don’t like birthdays not young people. Even with what Claude says I still in a way dislike birthdays. In my family no one makes a huge deal about it unlike some families I know. I have been asked to many birthday parties in the past were the family takes their child and a bunch of their friends to this expensive place to celebrate their birthday, where as in my family we have a special meal and I can ask a couple of my friends over. Nothing ever extravagant, but I like it simple. I like a lot of things plain and simple because if they are simple then I don’t have to worry about trying to be perfect and try to fit in with the wild and craziness.
Honestly I am not sure why I dislike birthdays so much. Maybe it is the fact that I have not actually spent a single birthday with the two people that gave me life in the first place. Birthdays are a time to spend with family and to thank your parents for giving you life and helping to support you up to that age. I have no one to thank and wonder if I ever will. It could be that or it might be the fact that I have never really been able to have a memorable birthday.
Our family has never been rich, so seeing all of the bills that are piled up on the kitchen counter a week out of every month makes me realize that we have never really had the money to rent a place or to go somewhere for my birthday. Almost all of my birthdays in the past haven’t been so pleasurable either. Whenever I invite some of my friends to come over somehow or other the discussion always turn towards me being adopted. The people in our family know not to talk about that because it is a very tender subject for all of us. My friends don’t know that though, so somehow every year I end up getting in this horrible mood because of that particular subject.
After I went to my first birthday party when I was seven I felt that I needed to through a big spectacular party when my birthday came. I felt it was a game of who’s birthday is better. I knew that mine had no shot at winning, but at least I needed to show them that I could be in the running. Without any money or confidence, every year I would try to throw the best party I could. I would get nervous and insecure about my party, so when everyone got here I was so focused on showing them how cool I was and how cool my party was that I forgot to have fun. Birthday parties are just a hassle in my opinion.
This year was a little different. Since I am no longer going to school and I haven’t bothered to keep in touch with any of my friends other than by letter, I really didn’t have anybody to ask to come. Aunt Marci said that she wanted me to have a party, but that she didn’t want me to worry about it. She said that she would put it together and that I should go relax. Well I went and relaxed for awhile, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how much of a disaster the party would be.
For awhile there I think I actually forgot that my birthday was coming up. Yesterday Aunt Marci and Tracy took me shopping at the mall. She said she didn’t have too much extra money in her wallet, but her and Tracy pulled together some money and I was able to get myself a birthday present. I went directly to the Disney store. Ever since I was little I have always loved the princesses‘, all of them. I have all of the books. I love reading and I know I can always depend on a heart whelming ending to come from those books. The ending are always magical. No matter how bad the princesses life was throughout the book at the end she finds her prince charming and they fall deeply in love. In the end her life is better than ever and she couldn’t be happier. My favorite princess has always been Ariel. I think I like the fact that she has a bigger challenge than just falling in love. She ends up falling in love with a man not a mermaid. Along her journey she realizes that her love to this man is strong enough to make two different worlds come together. That to me is magic and true love combined. I knew exactly what I wanted. I found this huge story book full of all of the princesses stories. After every story there is an activity to do with it. It doesn’t seem like much, but it is just right for me, especially if I were to go back to the hospital again.
Once we got home from the mall I saw that the house had been the same as it was before we left. Usually Aunt Marci would have my birthday party the same day as my birthday. I had asked her before we left when we were going to have my party and she said that she would tell me later. I didn’t press on with the question. Once we got to the door Tracy told me to wait until Aunt Marci opened the door.
When Aunt Marci finally got up the steeps she opened the door and a loud burst of “Surprise” came from the living room. Our whole family was there, even Aunt Marci’s mom. I have never felt comfortable calling her anything other than Aunt Marci’s mom, so I will just stick with that. I had a good party. Nothing seemed pressured like in years past. I could embrace who I am and who my family is. We played some games and ate cake and ice cream. It was a simple birthday, but it had to be the best birthday so far in my life.
I have had a blast being home so far and hopefully I can stay home for good now on, but who knows what the future holds for me? All that I know is that I need to keep positive thoughts and too live life in the now because like I said who knows what the future holds for me? I know one person that does, God.
Hope you write back!
Jeezabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
P.S. I am not mad at you if you forgot my birthday.
July 14, 1978
Dear mommy and daddy,
I look outside at the gentle rain drops that pour down from up above. One by one they fall, never two rain drops hitting the ground at the same time. It has been raining for days now, three to be exact. There will be an hour or two everyday were no rain will fall, but the sun never sprouts out. Today has been a bad day. I declared that only after being awake for five minutes. I know I shouldn’t judge a book my its cover, but rain is never a good sign, especially after it has rained for so long. I long for a nice, sunny day. One to break me out of my hollow, wet hole. I fear now that if it doesn’t stop raining soon the depression will come back. Maybe only for a day or two, but even that is dreadfully scary. The rain puts a damper on all of my options on what I can do. There is only a number of things I can do. It is funny because so many people wish they didn’t have to go to school. There were so many times were I have thought of how fun it would be to stay home from school and play. Sadly, even if I could play all of the things I use to be able to, I still would be bored out of my mind. People say they don’t want to go to work or school, but if they didn’t then they would have nothing else to do. Everything they wanted to do would soon seem less important.
I use to like the rain. I use to like thunderstorms. They seemed exciting and adventurous to me. I would like to go out and sit on the porch as the storm came in. Tony and I would have a contest to see who could stay out there longest.
Ever since I was little I have been afraid of thunder and ever since Tony was little he has been afraid of lightning. I am not fond of loud noises. Tony calls me a chicken whenever I jump when a pot falls to the floor and I call him a scared cat when lightning flashes and he closes his eyes. After most of the storm is over with everyone would put on their raincoats and boots and play in the rain. By then the rain usually would come to a light mist. For some reason I liked the feeling of the droplets landing on my face. When I was little I thought that whenever it rained it meant God was crying. Aunt Marci said that the story was just something moms would tell to their kids to give them a story. I still believed though. I am not sure if there is a mother nature or if it is just a story people tell too. Whether God is the one to make the weather happen or not. If he was, then the myth would make more sense. There is always a scientific explanation of why things happen, but what if everyone is wrong and it is God who is making our world spin around? What if when God cries rain falls? What if when it thunders and lightning’s God is upset with someone? In that case he is upset with someone a lot and cries a lot too. Althoughh it doesn’t surprise me, people nowadays are getting more cruel everyday.
I thought I would give up an update on my leukemia since it has been a while since I talked to you last. Thankfully I am in the remission stage now which meant that I could go home! I am not sitting in my living room on the couch writing to you. The days I have been here haven’t been so good weather wise, but other than that things have been a lot easier in our family. Aunt Marci can be home with the kids a lot more and not at the hospital with me twenty four seven.
Nothing bad has happened either surprisingly. I have been out of the hospital for twenty days now and amazingly my fevers have been down and I have had no other symptoms of problems which are all good signs. I have to go three days a week to the doctor, though. For out patient appointments. Dr. Reed is a cancer specialist, but he mainly does his work on patients that are in the hospital. The more severe cases he says. Being so, Dr. Reed told Aunt Marci and myself the other day when we went for an appointment that he would have to get me signed up at this cancer rehabilitation center that the hospital sends all of their patients too after they get out of the hospital. He said that it would be a lot easier on us and less costly. Plus the doctors there were taught how to care for people who have cancer but are living outside of the hospital. Dr. Reed said that there is a lot of things he doesn’t know about the situation I am in now that I am home and that he is trying to get me in as soon as I can. Dr. Reed told us that the only bad thing is, is that he doesn’t know when exactly he can get us in. The appointments would have to be on a regular basis and right now since the building is under construction the particular center that I would need to go to is book tight. He told us that they are making the leukemia center bigger and is planning on tearing the old one down after the new one is ready. With the centers rising patients it makes it hard to keep all of the patients they have now in the small building. Most of the patients are just like me. They have to come on a regular basis which makes getting into it even harder. Dr. Reed said that he has me on the waiting list and that hopefully when the new center opens up next month a lot more patients will me admitted as well.
He said that until that happens I will just have to continue coming to the hospital for my appointments. So far all is going good being at home. Hopefully it stays that way and I can keep progressing.
July fourth was two weeks ago and I can surely say that I was extremely happy that I was out of the hospital then. I think everyone had a great holiday weekend. Grandma and grandpa Pense stopped by and surprised us. They hadn’t mentioned that they were going to stop by. They told us that they had a surprise for us this weekend. When they told us that we were going to spend Fourth of July weekend in Tennessee we all were amazed. Grandma told us that it wasn’t anything like going to Disney World, but it is a chance to get out of the house and have some fun over the weekend. Grandpa told Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff how proud they are of them. That they raised eight wonderful, well brought out kids and that they are especially proud of how well both of them are holding up having a child with cancer. They both said that we all needed a little vacation and since I can’t be gone for very long and too far away it was just perfect! None of us could thank grandma and grandpa more.
Grandma and grandpa had our weekend booked to the top with things to do. They paid for our hotel and all of the activities we did. We stayed at this beautiful hotel. It wasn’t a four star one, but it was extremely nice. It had a pool and everything! Once we got down there Friday we went and saw a movie and ate. Grandpa told us about this really cool drive-in movie place where you can watch movies on a huge screen in your car while eating. It was really fun.
Uncle Jeff wouldn’t stop talking about how when he was a boy he would go to the drive-in all of the time with his friends when he lived in Kentucky. When we got back it was around nine. Everyone else wanted to check out the pool, but I stayed behind with Aunt Marci and Claude because I was tired. Sometime between nine thirty and ten I must have dosed off because when I woke up the next morning I was half laying on Claude’s stomach and Aunt Marci’s legs.
Saturday we went up to the mountains and rode the lift up. It was incredible. I had never been to Gatlinburg before. I had never been so high up before in my life. We spent most of the day up there and before we knew it was four in the afternoon and everyone was starving. We decided to eat at this really cool pancake place Aunt Marci requested us to go to. Once we got back down the mountain we all rode the bus back to our hotel and from the hotel we walked to the restaurant. When we close enough to it that we could see the restaurant clearly we all saw this big black bear running from the front of the restaurant to the woods out back. That was the first time I had ever saw a real bear in my life. It was crazy and extremely scary at the same time. It is crazy how seeing big, live bears is something natives see everyday. Once we were sure the bear had left we started toward the restaurant. The pancakes were delicious. The waiter even said that they got the maple syrup from the maple tree that morning. After we got done eating everyone went back to the pool, including me.
Sunday was our last day there and we could only stay half of the day because Uncle Jeff had to go back to work the next morning. Before we left we went horseback riding. I had been on a horse once before and it was really quite fun. I was only six at the time so I don’t remember it well, but I remember I enjoyed it a lot. We rode up the mountains for two whole hours. The horse I got was named Belle she was white with one black dot covering her right eye. She was just a pony, but she was beautiful. I got to see a lot of the scenery. Everything is so beautiful in Tennessee. From any point you can see the Rocky Mountains. Rivers flow going every which way making everything have a peaceful sense to it. The air smells fresh just as if it had rained hours before. Which it didn’t by the way. The weather held but pretty well which is surprising since it rained so much the week before. Around lunch we packed our things and headed home. All in all it was an amazing Fourth of July weekend. When we got back home we watched the Cincinnati fireworks up at the river. It was truthfully a very happy weekend. Did I mention I felt actually pretty good all weekend? Well I did and that was the best part of it. Thank you grandma and grandpa for giving us such a wonderful experience.
Hopefully everything keeps going well and I get into the doctor soon. Everyone is saying how it will be such a different experience, but I am up for the challenge. I just wish you could of seen me Fourth of July weekend. Claude said that it actually seemed as if I didn’t have cancer at all.
This is goodbye for now.
Jeezabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
August 9, 1978
Dear mommy and daddy,
Summer is almost over and I tear. Knowing that winter is around the corner makes me want to hind away, but that wont solve my problems. I have to confront them. Sadly I don’t know if I have enough strength to fight through another winter like the one I had last winter. Not seeing the sun for months and when it is out is it too cold for my aching body to go outside. If the cancer doesn’t kill me then not seeing the sun surely will. Winter is around two months away and the weather will be changing sooner than that. I am lost and can’t be found, I need a solution to making it through winter and my horrible depression and I need it now!
All in all my summer went pretty good actually. The sun was high in the sky until eight at night most nights and when it wasn’t I would be reassured that it would be back out the next day. Most of my days I spent with Claude and the family. Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff had to work most of the summer, but they made sure that Claude and Tracy had something planned for us most of the days. Whether it was just a walk to the park or whether it was taking us to a pool, it was all fun and I am glad for it all.
Claude has been an even bigger part of my life ever since I was diagnosed with leukemia. He is my support, my pole that holds me up when it seems as though I could fall any minute. He is my older brother and he always wants the best for me. That right there is beginning to start a problem. No, not for me or for anyone else, but himself.
He put his future on the line last week by making one very broad comment that he meant from the bottom of his heart. It is the one thing that no parent or guardian ever wants to hear their child say and defiantly not Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff. Seeing that our family is extremely large and money is tight and always has been, sending kids off to college is not an easy thing to do. So, either you have to work everyday after school starting when you were fifteen or get a college scholarship to get you through college. One thing that my older brother, Thomas, was very lucky to get. Yes, he had to work his butt off to get it, but in the end it paid off because he is now in a very popular college getting great grades and has a promising future.
Last weekend while Uncle Jeff was home Claude told us some shocking news. Claude told us that he was thinking about not going to college next year. He said that I need him now more than an education needs him. He said that it wouldn’t feel right to head off to college and leave me here behind. Claude has always been that type of person. He always puts others first, that is just him, but making a decision like that is a little over the top even for his caring, loving self. So far he has gotten three college scholarships from three different universities. All wanting him for his work ethic, good grades, and starting player for the guys soccer team. He didn’t officially decided where he wanted to go yet, but he was looking at New York State. They have the best program for becoming a doctor. Ever since I found out I have leukemia Claude has been looking more and more into being a doctor. He usually isn’t allowed to go into the doctors office when I have my weekly appointments, but once or twice he was let in.
He said that he wants to be a cancer specialist just like Dr. Reed. For the longest time he has said that if someone doesn’t find a cure for cancer that he will and he promises me that. At first I thought he was joking about the whole thing. I knew he has always wanted to be a doctor, but just recently he has started to want to be a cancer specialist. He started to get more and more into his studies which made his decision to not go to college right away even more surprising. Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff do not like the idea at all. Uncle Jeff thinks that he needs to get a good education and start a good job because he knows what it is like to not be wanted in the job market. Going to college will help finding a good, money making job. Aunt Marci on the other hand is a little bit more lenient. She understands where he is coming from. She knows that is isn’t the best decision he has ever made, but she said that she stands behind him with everything he does. All in all both Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff said that the decision is up to him. Claude did mention that both Tennessee and New York said that they will postpone his scholarship for two years. He said that they understand what situation he is put in, but they don’t want to let him give up one of the best opportunities he is given. They said that if he still feels like he doesn’t want to start college at the start of the new school year in 1992 than they are afraid they will have to drop the scholarship fund. That made Uncle Jeff a little bit more relieved and ok with Claude’s decision. He still wasn’t fond of it, but he told Claude that you have to do what you have to do and right now, if that is staying home and looking after me than that is what you have to do.
I am not sure what to think of all of this actually. Claude is the only one I can really talk to and if he were to go I would surely miss him loads, but making that drastic of a decision that quickly might come back to haunt him. I love Claude, he is my brother and I wouldn’t know what to do without him. Out of all the things people have done for me in my life that had to be the one that means the most to me. I now know that someone is on my side. Yes, our whole family is always going to be on my side, but with Claude it is different. He makes me feel better and I know that I can always come to him with anything and everything.
Sometimes I feel trapped when Claude is not around and I need to talk to someone. I feel like if I were to talk to Tracy or someone that they wouldn’t understand, whereas I know that Claude will always understand. He is my big brother and even though I believe he is making a horrible decision, it still means the world to me and I couldn’t of asked for a better brother than Claude.
Another big, good thing is that three weeks ago Dr. Reed said that I can start my second session of chemotherapy. Now that I am in remission his goal is to kick the cancer cells out of my body for good. Dr. Reed said that the medicine that they give me will be a dosage up which might cause more severe reactions with my body. I was a little nervous at first about having to go through a whole other session of chemotherapy because I thought I was doing so well. Dr. Reed told me that it is a good thing to have it done. Now that I am in a stronger position with the cancer they can finish up my chemotherapy in a year or two and I can be cancer free.
I still am not too fond of the side effects that comes along with the higher dose of medicine. All it does it makes me extremely tired all the time and when I am awake I feel horrible, but it is needed so I have to hand in there and keep thinking positive thoughts.
I started my second session of radiation in the last week of July and ever since Claude hasn’t taken his eyes off of me. One of Dr. Reeds special requests to Claude. So far they haven’t gotten to the extreme, but Dr. Reed said he is surprised at that. He said that I could feel fine one minute and the next be running to the bathroom or passing out. All things that need to be watched for so I can get the proper care. Ever since Dr. Reed told Claude this, Claude has been weary about taking me places. He is afraid that he wouldn’t be able to help me if something did happen. Dr. Reed didn’t specify much on all of the different side effects, but from the making of it they can’t be good. Claude has said many times that if something were to happen and he didn’t know what to do he could never live with himself. Whether I died or not. He is not a big risk taker and since almost half of my summer started after my first chemotherapy of my second session things became less fun. Claude was afraid to take us anywhere by himself. He always had to have another adult or someone who is old enough to go with him. Seeing that Tracy has a life, she wasn’t around all of summer. Aunt Marci and Claude told her to go and have fun with her friends, that Claude would handle everything. For awhile Tracy might have went off with her friends once a week or so, but as the summer progressed and she saw that Claude did have things under control, plus this is kind of like his job now that he decided his future, Tracy started going out with her friends more.
It was ok, but I saw the fear in Claude’s eyes whenever she left. I suggested that Claude ask a friend to help and that is what he did. It would mean more time spent places that were not home.
Claude in the past has had girlfriends. Many girls think he is hot, I know that for a fact. In second grade a bunch of fifth graders made up a fan club about him. I forget what they called it. He was the star pitcher for his baseball team all that season and did lead his team to the little league world series. So, you would guess crazy fifth graders would like that. It was rather kind of funny to be truthful and weird at the same time. Having girls stalk you isn’t something Claude is comfortable with. Claude has always liked girls and girls have always liked him, its just that he hasn’t always been the girlfriend type. He popular and is friends with a lot of the popular guys at his school, but he has always been rather shy. That might be why girls like him so much. He isn’t one to rush into a relationship, so he has only have a hand full of girlfriends in the past. He has told me before about this new girl at school. This was back during winter. He said that she was pretty and nice. He said that she had been talking to him ever since school started. He had French with Allison and since he didn’t have any real friends in his class they started talking. Not much at first, but eventually they became close. At that point I hadn’t met her, but Claude had told me about her. He said that she has long black hair with sea blue eyes. He said that she moved here from Chicago when her parents got divorced. He said that she is a very gifted pianist. He has heard her play five times now, all of the times were amazing he told me. After high school they didn’t talk much.
They had each others numbers, but her going off to college and him staying here, a relationship wouldn’t last and he knew it. So, occasionally he would call her or she would call him, but he felt it was good if they just were friends.
When I suggested we go to the park a couple of weeks ago Claude was hesitant just like always. Tracy was out with her friends and wouldn’t be back for a while. Claude didn’t want to disappoint me so I suggested he ask Allison to go with us. In one of their conversations he told her about me. She has never had to deal with catastrophe like this one, so she could never know my pain or Claude’s pain, but she did listen and try to understand what he was going through. He called her up and asked if she was busy. Oddly enough she wasn’t and she joined us that day at the park. We had a good time. The twins were at Aunt Marci’s sisters house which was a relief. They can be hard work, even for Claude. After that Allison started making regular visits.
The summer is close to an end and I am pretty sure none of us want it to end. Tony, Hailey, and Kara are excited about going back to school and seeing their friends. Claude and myself are dreading the new school season. Once Allison and Claude started hanging out again they have been acting like a couple. Both of them know that their relationship can’t be. She is going off to New York, while Claude is staying here in Cincinnati. Miles apart with only what to keep them together? Neither one of them have actually called themselves a couple yet and I doubt they are going to. Claude said that once summer was over she would head off to New York and probably meet a guy who is way more handsome than he is, that is a talented musician and fall in love.
They would have a beautiful big, expensive wedding because they would be making so much money with their music and then have a nice big family and live happily ever after. I told him that he was thinking too much and that he should figure out what is best for him, but what he wants and what is best for him are two different things. I am still not sure what is going on. The whole situation is a little confusing at times since I am ten and haven’t ever been in love. I hope I am in love one day, though. To a nice man that has a good job and that wants a family. Claude says that love is strange. He said that there is a benefit to being careful when it comes to dating, you really get to know that person and you can fall in love easier. Speaking of the whole love relationship thing makes him nervous, but I did ask him one day if he had ever been in love. He said he had, at least he thought he had. Her name was Sarah and it was back in the tenth grade. I remember her. She wasn’t his type I felt, but evidentially he loved her. She was a cheerleader, but she was different I will give her that. She didn’t care about looks or popularity. They dated for a year then she broke up with him over a phone call on their one year anniversary. The word I used at that time was cruel. I still think the word fits. She broke up with him for this jock basketball player that was popular and hot. I think then Claude realized that she didn’t really love him, he had only loved her. The feeling was not mutual and he got his heart broken.
My only wish is to fall in love. I think that would be wonderful. Love is exciting, at least from what I have heard about it. Although watching movies about princesses probably isn’t the best way to learn about love. Considering all fairytales have to have a happy ending. Claude says usually they don’t and that is what scares me.
Hopefully one day I will have a happy ever after.
Jeezabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
September 2, 1990
Dear mom and dad,
It is school season once again. Summer is completely over with, sadly and the leaves are starting to change color. I like fall, probably because of Halloween. I like the smell of fall for some reason. The way the leaves crumble when you walk on them. The smell of dried leaves. It all gets me in the spirit of Halloween, which is my favorite holiday. Christmas is all fine and dandy, but Halloween has to be my favorite. Sadly fall means that in a couple of months winter will be knocking at our door. That I don’t like, at all! Honestly I am dreading the winter months and will cherish everyday that is nice and warm like it is our last. Crazy huh? How much I hate winter. I hate winter because it brings depression and depression leads to unwanted thoughts. Thoughts that I can not control no matter how hard I try.
On the up side Dr. Reeds plan on getting me back in school this school year has been kind of a success. I say kind of for a reason. Dr. Reed said that because of all of the treatments that have to be done every week, it is going to be a hassle going to school and it has. It is funny how much you don’t realize when you are on summer break. The same feelings that would have keep me out of school when I did go would just be a minor thing that I wouldn’t really realize because I could lay around in bed all day trying to get better. I didn’t realize how much pain I had been in until the first day I was allowed to go back. It was a couple of days after my chemo and I was still feeling under the weather. Dr. Reed had to start making my chemotherapy’s on Friday nights so I can rest up throughout the weekend, so I can feel better when Monday comes around. I told Aunt Marci that I was feeling fine and good enough to go to school that Monday. I was excited to go to school for the first time on the first day that everyone is back from summer break. Something that is normal finally. I wanted to go to see all of my friends and to meet new ones, but more than anything I just wanted to be back on a normal schedule. I told Aunt Marci that I was feeling fine when in actuality I was still recovering from chemo that I had that Friday. I woke up that morning still feeling sick. I hadn’t realized how bad I felt until I saw that I had to get up, go to school, and make it through the whole day. All in all I ended up not going to school that day, which wasn’t a great start to the beginning of the new school year.
It got even worse too. That Tuesday I had a doctors appointment with Dr. Reed, my last one with him actually, so I couldn’t go to school Tuesday either. Thankfully I felt fine Wednesday morning and went to school then. Everyone was very welcoming. All of my friends gave me a big hug when I walked in the door. They all said that they missed me and was glad I was back. I told them that I would be coming to school, but that I wasn’t sure how frequently. They said that was ok as long as I showed up as much as possible and that they would be super supportive.
When Dr. Reed discussed the whole school thing with Aunt Marci he made it extremely clear that he still thought that being home schooled was the way to go in my case. He said that there is so many more benefits to being home schooled than to go to a public school, especially with me. If you didn’t realize by now Dr. Reed was home schooled throughout most of his school life. He said that being away from school is not a good thing when you are already playing catch up. He said that if I were homes schooled I wouldn’t have to worry about getting all of the nasty germs kids bring with them, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting sick when I was at school, I could work anytime at any place, whether it be at the hospital or at home, and he said that it would give me the chance to catch up if I tried hard enough. In the end I told him that I would still prefer to go to the same school that I had been going to. He couldn’t tell me otherwise since he had already tried to make his point. Although Aunt Marci tried to talk me out of it, but she gave into my requests just like Dr. Reed. Dr. Reed said that I would have to take some tutoring classes after school to try to catch up with the other kids, but that I could try to go to a public school, but he did say that if I ever get put back in the hospital or become sicker or something like that then I have to accept to being home schooled. I agreed to his deal and so far it has gone pretty well. I go as much as I can and try to get the best grades as I can. I just hope I can keep it all up and stay out of the hospital.
Yesterday was my first day at my new doctors office. Months ago Dr. Reed signed me up to start going to a Cancer Rehabilitation Center. He said that due to construction that was going on in the center they were overbooked, but now since the new leukemia building is up and ready they can start taking in more patients. Dr. Reed told me when I went for my last appointment with him that they do things a lot differently there. He said that they wont always do all of the tests that they usually would do at the hospital, due to time. Basically they will bring you back and you will sit and talk for the first five minutes. You will be responsible to tell the doctors everything that is going on. How you feel and how you are adapting to life at home. If he feels you need a certain test done then he will do it, but if you tell him that you feel fine then he most likely will believe you. Dr. Reed said that the best way to succeed with this is to tell the doctors the truth on how you are feeling. Sometimes patients will tell the doctors that they feel fine when they don’t really and just want all of the cancer stuff to be done. Well sadly just because you want it to be over with doesn’t mean that you are better. Dr. Reed said that is where problems happen. All that happens is you most likely get worse and if you continue to not tell anyone how you are really feeling, that one lie could cost you your life.
When I went for my first appointment yesterday it was extremely crazy. Not everything is settled nice and neatly there from the construction that was being done. People were everywhere and it was all very confusing. Instead of one big building like the hospital, there are many buildings for different purposes. There is one huge parking lot for all of the buildings. The buildings are all circled around it, but because of the hugeness of the parking lot we couldn’t see the numbers on the different buildings. We new that we had to be in building five, but had no idea where that was. The morning started out bad to start with. I spent most of the night before vomiting from the medicine that was given to me. Both Aunt Marci and I overslept from the lack of sleep we both got that night. Since it was a Thursday and everyone had school we had to either bring the twins with us or leave them with one of our neighbors who sometimes baby-sits them. Aunt Marci decided at last minute to leave them with the neighbor so she called her up and she said that she would be right over once she got dressed. Well evidently it takes her twenty minutes to get dressed because by that point we had ten minutes to get to the center which is thirty minutes away. We had to stop twice so I could vomit and every light in town turned red on us. By the time we got there we were five minutes late which isn’t so bad, but then we couldn’t find the right building. There are eleven all together, all fairly big too. We first walked to the closest building to see the number. Although the closest building was pretty far away. It was number nine which meant we had to walk all the way across the parking lot to get to number five. Once we were there I was worn out. We practically ran, even though I am not suppose to. Aunt Marci and myself didn’t want to be late for my first appointment especially of this fancy of a place. When we got there we had to climb two sets of stairs because there was a line for the elevator. When we got into the office Aunt Marci signed me in and I went straight to the play area. One thing that I like doing while I am at appointments. Sadly, they ended up calling us right back, which would be expected since we were over ten minutes late. Although we have a reason to be late since it is our first time coming here. Dr. Reed had told us before that I would see many doctors not only one. When we got back we got to meet Dr. Cole. He started off with what is going to happen when I am here and just like Dr. Reed said he pretty much told me that if I don’t tell the truth then I am screwed. Thankfully I don’t plan on lying even if I want this nightmare to be over and done with. The rest of the appointment went fairly well. A normal appointment. I was a little nervous at first, but once I saw that things wouldn’t be that bad I got more comfortable.
There is something I need to say and I know that it is going to sound crazy when I do. For the first time I think everything started to sink in. Something big happened when I went to that appointment. Something that Aunt Marci, nor Dr. Cole, nor anyone else saw and that was realization. I think before I was like a hardened rock. I wasn’t blind to the fact the I have leukemia, but then again I didn’t freak out about it and clearly I was not happy about it. I was just there. I was there in the hospital for a whole day while nurses and doctors did test on me. I was there when I got my first chemotherapy and the so many more that came after that. I was there when I was finally released and I was there when I finally got into remission. When I walked out of the doctors room that day I saw something. When we walked down the long hallway to the waiting room I saw something. Kids, I saw kids everywhere. All of them were pale, thin, and most importantly, none of them had hair. When I walked out in the waiting room I saw kids playing with the same toys I had played with not that long ago. I watched as they would make new friends and ran around trying to make the best of a horrible situation. None of them asked for it. None of them asked to have leukemia or cancer. It isn’t fair that is the complete truth, but sadly no one can do anything about that. Those helpless kids, me included, can’t drink some magic drink that would magically cure the leukemia. It isn’t possible. So, we have to suffer through and deal with this terrible misfortune because we have no choice. We can’t go run and play in the park like other kids. I would watch kids run around in the park when I was in the hospital. They would run around without a care in the world, but they don’t even know. No, sadly we have to know. The kids who do have leukemia and cancer they have to know and they have to worry. I guess some kids are luckier than others, but it is still not right. No matter what it still wont be right!
So, I sit back and watch as kids just like me who are suffering, just like I am. When there is not a thing that can be done about it. You might think that I am bitter, but am I? I am not sure really. Should I think this way? Or should I keep my thoughts to myself and deal with the cruel life that is mine.
Jeezabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
October 22, 1990
Dear mommy and daddy,
The months passes like the summer heat. It is October and the nights are getting chillier and chillier by the hour. Usually on Halloween it is a little chilly, but this year it is going to be plain cold. I love Halloween, but this year it seems as if I am dreading it. It might just be the fact that after Halloween comes Thanksgiving comes and then Christmas. Two holidays that I enjoy, just not the cold part of them. The cold will come back and so will my depression. I have decided not to worry about the cold winter ahead of me. I have decided to forget about it and look to the warmth we still have left, but sadly it is like sitting in a bath full of warm water. Sooner than later the water will get cooler and cooler until it gets cold. I wish I could move. Move to Florida or somewhere that is nice and warm and sunny through winter. That would be great, but that is not realistic. So once again I will have to sit through another depression filled winter in hopes that spring will come faster this time.
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. For some reason all of the witch, ghost thing interests me. It always has. I love reading books of mystery and ghost stories. I guess I like scaring myself. I would love to go to a haunted house just to get scared, but I don’t think I would like it very much if my house was haunted. Everyone says that I am so sweet and couldn’t hurt a fly and I wouldn’t. Scary things just interest me I guess. I love getting all dressed up and being someone not myself for a night. Every Halloween I have to be something scary or it is not as fun. This year, though is going to be a little different. Aunt Marci is still deciding whether I should go out and trick-or-treat or if it will be too much. Not going trick-or-treating would be horrible. Halloween would be no fun. Claude suggested that we bring a wagon and I can ride in that. I wouldn’t be allowed to go up to the houses, Claude would have to do that, but it would be better than not going at all.
I want to be a witch for Halloween this year. Last year I was a ghost and the year before that I was a pumpkin. Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff always take us trick-or-treating. This year the twins are old enough to come with us. Last year we had to have a baby sitter watch them.
It will have been officially a year since I started writing to you again on the twenty-seventh of this month. I still haven’t gotten a reply yet either. I am not mad. I just wish we couldn’t talk instead of making me do all of the talking. If that is what you want, me telling you about my life, then that is fine, I will continue to tell, but I want to know about the two of you also. I know I didn’t stay long enough to be apart of your life, but now I feel I need to be. You did give me birth and I still don’t know who you are as a person. If you don’t want to talk to me I would understand, but I wouldn’t like it. You are my birth parents and I feel I have a right to know who you are. If you feel differently then tell me. I am not a part of your life anymore, but I wish I was.
Other than it being almost a year that I have been talking to you it has also almost been a year that I have had cancer. That is crazy to think about, that I have lived almost a year with cancer being in my body. Dr. Cole said that I am getting better too. Everything seems to be going pretty good. A lot better than it did when I first got emitted into the hospital almost a year ago. Back then I didn’t really think I was that sick, but now looking back I can see that I was, very. My skin is still as pale as it was then, but my body is not as frail. Sadly I feel the same as I did back then, but just in a different way. Before it was the sickness that was making me feel bad. Now it is the chemotherapy and all of the medicine and treatments that is making me feel sick. That is feeling I have gotten use to and now I rather like. That is crazy right? Me saying that I like spending most of my nights with my head in the toilet. That I like waking up in the middle of the night with a killer head ache or stomach ache. That I like sleeping my days away. No, I don’t like any of that, but it tells me that I am getting better. That the chemotherapy is there to help me and that it is helping me. Every time I feel bad I know that once I start to feel better again I have a little less caner in me. At least I hope. Feeling that way brings me new hope. Hope that was long overdue.
Ever since I got back from the Rehabilitation Center I have been feeling different. Stronger in a way. Not because of what anyone said, because of what I saw. I just can’t help, but think about those kids. Me included. Helpless, but not hopeless. That is something that I like thinking about. I have been thinking lately. Maybe too much, but I want to make a change. I just don’t know how. I am a nine year old girl trying to help over millions of kids who are sick. Me being sick isn’t helping anything either.
I have started writing again. I haven’t really been since I was diagnosed. I am sure I mentioned to you the fact that I love to write. My dream of becoming an author one day. I don’t think that could have slipped my mind while I was writing to you. Writing to you and writing period are two completely different things. When I am writing to you I have to state the truth. If I didn’t then there would be no point to writing to you. Writing anything else, I can be whoever I want to be, just like on Halloween. I can write about a wicked old lady with a pet alligator who is on a search for a nice, loving husband or I can be an explorer in search for the mysterious, green beast that lives upon the tallest mountain ever known to man. I can let my imagination run wild like the wind. I believe that God put everyone on this Earth for a reason. That reason can be completely obvious or it can be hidden away for safe keeping, but I believe that everyone has a purpose in this life. A purpose to help change the world, but it is your choice to realize your purpose and it is your choice to accept what God has made you. It is your choice to wake up and put your dreams into action. I believe that I was put on this Earth to write, to have a voice that is louder than anyone else’s and that is through my writing. I have the chance to make a difference in this world and I am bound and determined to do so.
Like I said I have started writing again, but this time my writing means way more than just letters on a piece of paper. I feel through my writing. Every thought that races through my mind I capture it on the piece of paper. It helps me vent. Writing is my way of letting it all get out. You can’t hid anything to yourself and that is what I love most about writing. It is a lot like when you pray. You can’t lie to God. I mean you can, but he sees everything anyways so it would be useless. You, in a way have to be truthful with yourself. Getting my thoughts on paper gives me a much better feeling than keeping it all bottled up. I love talking with Claude. I feel I can vent to Claude about anything and everything, but there are just some things you just can’t figure out with speech. Things that you can only fully understand when it is on paper. At least that is how I see things. When I write I leave everything on that piece of paper. All my thoughts. All my emotions. It is me and nothing less of me.
Jeezabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
November 12, 1990
Dear mom and dad,
My fear has come back and there is absolutely nothing for me to do about it. The depression that left me hopeless last year has come back to haunt me again this year. Winter has started to set in and all I can ever think about now is the long, cold, depressed months that lay ahead of me. I read something that in the newspaper the other day about the most common reason for depression. Eighty percent of the patients with depression said that the feeling of having nothing to look forward to lead then into a deeper depression. Sadly that is right were I am. Sitting in bed reading, writing, sleeping, that is what I have to look forward to. Spring is months away and I am already counting down the days until it comes once again. Officially winter hasn’t even started yet, but the weather turned nasty weeks ago. I sit on the couch writing to you today. Looking out the window I see no leaves on the trees. Most are on the ground. I wonder how it must feel to be a leaf. I know leaves don’t have feelings, but what if they did? I look at a bright red leaf sitting under a leafless tree. The feeling of being secure and safe in the spring and summer, but when fall and winter comes along the feeling of worry. That is how I feel. One day all of the leaves will be left without a home and will soon die. New leaves will be reborn when spring shines in again. Initially that is what happens, right? A new baby is born into the world. The next day another. Sooner or later one of those babies dies. It is the cycle of life. A sad, ironic circle of life, but one none the less.
I have been thinking about that a lot lately. I have been thinking a lot about God lately. Have you ever heard the saying “That’s life?” It is very obvious that when people use that saying it means that something happened that is unfair. That is life, but what really is life? Is it suppose to be filled with worries and hatred, where people struggle to find their footing? Or is it suppose to be filled with joy and love, where people float smoothly into old age? Whether the first one is right or wrong is besides the point. The point is that should people have to say “That’s life” or should they not? Claude is like me when it comes to church. He isn’t the church boy who goes every weekend, although ever since I got out of the hospital both Claude and I have been attending church every weekend. It feels good to be back where you should be. I didn’t know I should be there before. I didn’t realize how much of an impact God can be on someone’s life. Claude believes in God, very much so. He is always telling me that God wants us to be happy. To live a long, productive life. If he wants us to be happy then why do I hear “That’s life” all of the time? If God controls everything, this whole world, then why can’t he change things for the better? Why can’t he stop that saying from ever coming out of anyone else’s mouth again and filling every word with joy? Obviously if he can make a whole world he can surely make it better, can’t he?
It isn’t fair that helpless, innocent kids get stuck with having to deal with cancer. It isn’t fair that anyone, child or not, should have to deal with the trauma of having cancer! But, once again that is life. I love God and wouldn’t know what to do without him, but if he wants us to be happy and healthy then why do these bad things happen? I know I must sound crazy, that is because I am. That I know, but am I wrong to think this way? I have though about this many times and honestly I am afraid. I am afraid that I am thinking wrongly. That I am sinning against God by thinking this. I don’t want to sin, but then again I can’t help but wonder. That is what kids do. I do hope God can forgive me. Maybe I am just too small to understand why things happen. Maybe I haven’t had as many life experiences that I need to understand what God’s goal is for us. I do believe he has a goal though. If he didn’t then what would that mean? I am too afraid to think about that. I have sinned so much already I feel.
It is not an easy thing to forget though. Once you actually think about it you can’t help, but wonder; am I wrong? I believe God knows what he is doing and if he didn’t we wouldn’t have as nearly as a good of a world as we do. Yes, I believe the world needs some corrections, but maybe the world itself doesn’t, maybe the people who live on the world does. Every year that passes it feels as if the people get more selfish and more selfish. Teens nowadays do things that teens definitely would never do years ago that is for sure. Teens back in the old days would never think about drinking or sinning, whereas nowadays teens could go out and drink and sin as many times as they feel like it and not feel a thing. Some times I wonder if people nowadays are born without a conscience or if they just lose it after they have done so many wrong things. I know for sure that I still have my conscience. Grown ups back in the days would never think about complaining about getting up at the crack of dawn and going to work or go home and gossip to their husbands or wives about other peoples business. Grown ups years ago would have to do a lot more than grown ups do now without a single complaint. They wouldn’t gossip either. All it really does is start problems that could easily be avoided.
People are doing things in this world that are making it the way it is. Pollution, crimes, global warming, war, and murders along with many more are all things that make our world the way it is. In my opinion the world we live in today is not good, not good at all. There are just so many things I think should be changed to help make the world a better place. I believe that other people have ideas for helping to change the world, but don’t do anything about them. There are just so many things, so many little things that people can do. Even if an idea is brought up and put into effect people still don’t care. They don’t participate in fundraisers, or help support organizations that are trying to help our environment. They sit back hoping someone else will help, but that person that they think is going to help is thinking the same thing the guy who is doing nothing is thinking and does nothing also.
I too haven’t been very helpful at making this world a better place. I will admit that. Now that I think about it there has been many times where I have let to make my voice be heard or helped out in a fundraiser. I didn’t see how much of an impact it can have until now. I don’t think many people do realize the importance of fundraisers and organizations. I want to help change that. I am going to start doing my part on helping make this world a better place to live, because sadly, we have no other place to live. It is either get along in this world or don’t. No other choice.
I have a goal though. A brilliant goal. It may not be perfect and all laid out right now, but it is a start. I said that I want to make a difference in this world and I also said that I intended to see it though. I do, but that doesn’t mean that it wont come at a cost. Right now so many things are happening. Good, normal things, but still things and a lot of them. I am not sure if I can keep up. The minute I stepped into Dr. Cole’s office he made a comment on how I am a nine year old girl in a six year olds body. That is what cancer can do to you. It makes you look less of yourself. Like you are only half way there. Now that things are inching it’s way back to normal everyday it feels like I am more exhausted by the second. Between making it to every doctors appointment, chemotherapy session, radiation, getting to school on time everyday, doing all of my homework, writing, and now wanting to change the world. Phew! That is a lot, especially for a nine year old girl. But I except no the less out of me than I can push out. I know that I can stay healthy and keep going to school. I know I can change the world, maybe not today or tomorrow, but I promise that I will. That is one promise that I will most definitely keep.
I want to stop the spread of the saying “That’s life,” for good. I am going to start with my fellow cancer patients. I know for a fact that none of those helpless kids did anything to deserve cancer. I know, at least I don’t think, that I deserve to have cancer. No one really does. It would be a cruel punishment I will say that. Many people would rather choose that than going to jail, but really it is way worse. You get a chance to start your life over in jail, but with cancer you may not. People think that they can just go through chemotherapy for a year or so and they will be all better, but sometimes that doesn’t always happen. More than sometimes that doesn’t always happen. You don’t always get better only worse and when your body can no longer fight the cancer it takes over and wins. Sad, yes I know and scary, extremely scary, but the truth none the less. No one deserves to be in that much pain physically and mentally.
I want to start by journey today on trying to make this world a better place. I have a plan and that is my first step to becoming successful. I am ten and the words that come out of my mouth aren’t respected very much, but I will be heard no matter what. I have most of it figured out and next month when I write to you hopefully I will start my charge to change the world person by person.
Jeezabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
P.S. when you read this try to remember that I am not crazy because it is getting harder everyday for myself to remember that.
December 28, 1990
Dear mom and dad,
Winter has come and I am glad to say that so far it has been a lot better than last year. That was until Christmas. The nasty weather has been the same which you can predict is cold, wet, and dreary. All things I could live without. Once again I will find myself wondering how much nicer it would be if we moved somewhere where it stayed sunny and warm all year around. Florida would be good, or maybe Atlanta. I have always wanted to go to South Carolina, it just seems like my type of place. Sadly, let just say you won’t see me with a sun tan for another six months. All together being out of the hospital during winterr is a big help with all of the depression stuff. I can do a lot more and feel more free.
Lately things have been going pretty good. Everything is completely different from being in the hospital all of the time. My life seems to be slowly moving back to being normal, which is good. I think that has been my goal all along. To reach a point where my life is back to were it was before I got diagnosed. I have learned a lot so far from having leukemia. All of the little things that were so important before don’t seem as important anymore. I definitely won’t be going back to my normal life the same as I had before. Hopefully I can go back to my normal life as a better person. A better Christian, a better person, and more open minded. Oh, not to mention a new, better, healthier body, that is important too.
I have been going back to school as much as I can lately, but sadly it is not as much as I would like to. I have been going back three times a week at the most and that is even pushing it. My life is busy. With everything that I have to do with my leukemia and trying to stay healthy. It is all very overwhelming at times, but something that I have to try to manage. I have a lot of my plate, and is good that I have a big appetite.
So, I am guessing that you are wondering why I had said that everything was going good until Christmas came. This years Christmas was a little different than last years. Last year Christmas was a blast. Uncle Jeff’s mom and dad came down to see us and enjoy Christmas. Sadly, back then I was still in the hospital and it turns out that this year it was a close call. Having Christmas in a hospital wasn’t all that bad. I actually had fun and I think everyone else did too. The kitchen ladies made special dinners just for us since we were practically the only ones there on a holiday, we played games until late at night, and in the morning Santa came! All in all it wasn’t like most of us planned it to be, it was even better and all because we were with family. This year was a little different. I started feeling not so hot on the eighteenth of December. My head started hurting, my belly started hurting, and I was extremely hot. It all started early in the morning. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. because my belly hurt extremely bad! I went running, crying to Aunt Marci when it wouldn’t stop. I didn’t know what to do, I just felt so bad. Aunt Marci told me that I could sleep with her that night and she would give me some medicine in the morning. So I got in bed with her and I went back to sleep. When I woke up in the morning I was exhausted from everything that happened that night. I slept in until ten in the morning. Since we were on winterr break I didn’t have school. When I finally woke up I realized I was drenched in sweat. The pain in my belly only got worse as the morning progressed and my head hurt right along side my belly. I went downstairs to complain to Aunt Marci. She gave me some medicine and then took my temperature. Once it beeped and she read the number her eyes got big and worried. My temperature was 100.3 degrees. Aunt Marci decided around two that she should call Dr. Cole. Once she got a hold of a nurse she told Aunt Marci that with my symptoms it would probably be best if she brought me in just to make sure nothing was going on. When we got to the Rehabilitation Center Dr. Cole did some tests on me. None that I haven’t seen and had done before. Once the results came back he told me that I had an infection.
That news brought my spirits down. I knew I wasn’t feeling well, but I thought I would get over it in a couple days and I would be able to go home and start enjoying my winterr break. Unfortunately, the short, harmless trip to the center turned into me getting reemitted to the hospital for the third time. I was not happy to say the least. Every time that I got reemitted back in the hospital I stayed there for long periods of time.
I met with Dr. Reed the first day I came in. He was not surprised to see me again. He told us that it was a little infection. One that wouldn’t do much harm and would leave my body soon. That wasn’t the case either. Since my blood counts were down from my second session of chemotherapy the infection only worsened. By Thursday we all worried that I would be stuck in the hospital for Christmas, again. Thankfully, my next chemo session wasn’t until after Christmas, which meant that my counts would hopefully go up. They did and the infection slowly, but surely disappeared. On Friday after some begging and pleading with Dr. Reed he finally gave in to Aunt Marci and my wants. I was dismissed from the hospital that day, even though Dr. Reed wasn’t sure I was fully better yet. He knew how important it was for us to have a normal Christmas holiday with family since we didn’t get to have one last year. Everyone was expecting us to drive down to Indiana to have Christmas with Uncle Jeff’s brother. Everyone would be going there, so we couldn’t miss that. Thankfully I was released and we were on our way.
The car ride there was not fun at all, but everyone bared through it. Christmas feel on a Monday, so we had a day where we could just visit with family until everyone else came Monday. Mark is Uncle Jeff’s brother and Tina is his wife. They don’t have any kids yet, but one is go it’s way. While Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff caught up, the kids had to occupy themselves.
On Christmas Eve Mark and Tina had some company, old friends of Uncle Jeff’s. Did you know he use to live down there growing up? Well he did. I didn’t know any of them, but they sure knew me and the rest of the gang. Don’t you just hate it when you meet someone who you never thought you met before, and then they go on this rampage on how long it has been since they saw you? I like to know who I am talking to when I am talking to someone. It started to snow on Christmas Eve so, Claude took Kara, Hailey, Tony, and myself out to play in it. It had already snowed a couple of times before then, so there was still some on the ground.
On Christmas day I woke up first, as usual. I ran to wake up Claude and everyone else. We went downstairs to find a bunch of presents under the Christmas tree. This year I got Hailey’s name, which means that I had to buy her a special present. I didn’t have much money, but I thought she would like a piano book filled with piano music. She has always wanted to play piano so for Christmas last year Aunt Marci, Uncle Jeff, and grandma and grandpa all put together enough money for her to take piano lessons. She has gotten really good actually, considering she has only been playing for about a year. She really enjoys it too, so I got her that.
I was so excited to see her face when she opened it so I made her open hers first. The look on her face when she opened it was priceless! She said she loves it and hasn’t stopped looking at it since. Kara got my name when she picked and when I opened her present I found a bike helmet. I looked at it for a minute or two. Confused, until I put on a fake smile and said thank you. I wasn’t sure why she would give me a bike helmet if I didn’t have a bike to ride, but I played along not wanting to hurt her feelings. Suddenly it all made sense. My present from Uncle Jeff and Aunt Marci was last. They told me to close my eyes and then left the room. I was wondering why there wasn’t a last present under the tree. When they reentered the room and told me to open, I opened my eyes to a new, purple bike!!!! I was so happy. I had never really had a bike of my own. Once Kara or Hailey out grew theirs they would sometimes hand it down to me, but I had never had one that was just mine. That had to be the best present. Uncle Jeff said that he hoped that I would start feeling a little better and I could be able to go and ride it once spring came.
That night everyone came over. Grandma and Grandpa Pense, Uncle Jeff’s sister and other brother with their families, and Tina’s mom and dad. We had turkey with gravy, applesauce, green beans, corn, corn bread, mashed potatoes, and apple pie for dessert. Everything was amazingly delicious. Grandma and grandpa gave us our gifts too. I got two new Barbie dolls and a coloring book. We all partied until late that night. I missed everyone and didn’t want to leave. I was extremely glad fate was in my hands when I got better and got released from the hospital. We would have made the best of the situation if I had to stay, but spending time away from home and with family for Christmas was everything I could of ever asked for and more!
Hope you had a delightful holiday!
Jeezabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
January 8, 1991
Dear mom and dad,
Can you believe it has been a year and three months since I have started writing to you again? It is crazy how much can happen in that short of a time. I haven’t asked you how your life has been lately, have I? I know you might be thinking that it is none of my business and you might be right, but I still want to know. I still want to know what goes through your head every time you receive a letter with my return address on it. Do you wonder what it says and why I have written so much when you go to throw it away? Do you tell your mail carrier to throw away anything that was mailed to you by my address? Or do you just toss it in the trash once it comes? Do you actually read it, but just don’t reply? Or do you reply, but you don’t have the right address so it never comes? I am not sure what is right, but I would love to know! Although if you haven’t replied to any of my previous letters I wouldn’t expect you to reply to any letters I send you in the future either. But I might be wrong, who knows? Oh, wait you do. I know you feel strongly about this in whatever way, good or bad, but I would like to hear your reasons. Your reasons why you do not reply. Maybe you just don’t know what to say. Maybe you just can’t bare to look at any of my letters when they come or even a piece of blank paper whenever you try to write. I might be able to help you, you know. Give me any reason why you don’t feel writing would be a good decision and I am willing to argue about it until I make a point. Even if there isn’t a point.
I am urging you to just write once. It doesn’t even have to be a long letter. It could be just two letters, no, for all I care. I just want to know that you are getting my letters I send to you. I guess knowing that you are at least reading what I am saying when I am trying to make a point. That is all I need. I hope you do give it a chance and just write. Stop worrying, if you are worrying and just give it a chance. Maybe once you have done that you might even want to do it more and if by chance you don’t want to write anymore than that is your decision. I want you to know that I will continue writing to you. I want you to be apart of my life, no matter how small, but if you don’t want me to be apart in your life that is also fine.
Lately some big things have been happening! No, I am not back in the hospital again, thankfully. I am proud to say that I am doing much better and have been feeling pretty good lately.
I have told you that I love writing. Well, I was in bed a couple of nights ago trying to fall asleep, but something was bothering me. My body can be odd sometimes, so whenever something isn’t right or I am forgetting to do something my body doesn’t let me sleep. I knew exactly what was bothering me. It was the feeling I got when I was praying before I laid down for bed. Ever since I started thinking about the world and God wanting us to be happy, I have felt like I have sinned about a million times. Judging God the way that I did was not one of my brightest moments, but I just don’t understand. Maybe I understand a little more than I did last time. Like I said before, I do believe God knows what He is doing and if the world were perfect most likely we would all be spoiled to the point were He would have no one to join Him in heaven. It is the struggles in life that really makes you who you are. It either can break you into a million pieces or you can be strong and persevere.
As I was about to fall asleep an amazing idea popped into my head. Of course I had to have the idea then instead of four hours ago when I had a pen and paper. I got the most perfect idea for a book. One that could really make an impact on peoples lives if they choose to really listen to it. I haven’t actually wrote a full book before beginning to end, but I have had ideas for books. Mostly they were non-fiction and meaning less other than to entertain people. I think when I started thinking a little more on my life I learned that writing is my thing. It is definitely something I love to do, but in the future I want it to be more than a hobby. I want it to be my career.
Thinking back in my life I have found a lot of times were I haven’t been perfect and no one is perfect, but there are a lot of things that I feel needs to be changed about my attitude and my life. Ever since I got diagnosed with cancer I really truly have learned a lot. One big thing that I have learned is to not take things for granted because you don’t know what you have until it is gone. Like health for example; a lot of people don’t cherish their health as much as they should. One minute you can be healthy and strong and the next you could be getting rushed to the hospital finding out you have cancer. People don’t realize how lucky they are to be healthy until they do get sick and if they don’t they are surely lucky.
In life I feel that everyone has a purpose. That everyone was put on this Earth for a reason. Some way or somehow they are suppose to help make this world a better place. I believe that is why God made us and put us where we are today. It is all His plan. Whether you decided to be the bigger person and take what God has offered you or not is up to you. Everyone has a gift; something that they are good at. They are suppose to use that gift to help change the world. I think that my gift is through writing. You might be wondering how writing can help change the world, but it can. Just like actors and actresses can help change the world. Through my writing. Honestly I have a lot to say. I might not be the most outgoing person in the world, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot to say. I can just say it through my writing and my books. I want my books to help change the world. I am not going to be that person who doesn’t take a stand and doesn’t realize their gift. I think I have realized it and I am going to do everything to accomplish God’s goal.
The book is going to be about a fifteen year old girl. She lives in Brooklyn, New York in 1977. Her name is Rosaline, but she likes to be called Rosie. Rosie hasn’t had a very good life so far. She is only fifteen and has much of her life to live. Rosie’s mother left her and her father a year after Rosie was born. Her parents weren’t married when they had her and never got married. Her mother was only sixteen and her father was seventeen. They were still kids themselves. Rosie’s father had never been the best of people. He had poor grades when he was in school and dropped out once Rosie’s mother left them. On top of all of the knife fights he had gotten into, gangs he has been in, and test he has flunked, he has a drinking problem. After Rosie is born he sees a new light, though and wants to be a good father. He realizes that everything that he thought was cool before really wasn’t and all that mattered to him was his daughter. But when rough times came his drinking problem would come back. Since he dropped out of school finding a stable job was hard. He was always getting laid off or hired. He could never keep a job more than a year. Him not having a stable, good job made the bills extremely hard to pay. The lived on the poor part of Brooklyn, in an apartment complex that would be going up for sale any day now due to the economy. Due to her fathers pay check, Rosie had to start working at age ten.
Rosie has always loved flowers. Her neighbor owns a flower shop uptown and ever since her and her neighbor, Olivia, have been good friends she has always stop in her shop after school to talk and to help out a little. It has always been her favorite part of the day. She knew that she could always go there and see Olivia and the beautiful flowers and her day would turn from bad to good. The flower shop has always been her one place that was stable in her life. Where she could go to get away from all of the hectic at home and school. When she turned ten Olivia hired Rosie to help out and she has worked there ever since.
Rosie knows her father loves her very much and is doing everything he possibly can to support the two of them, but some times it is not enough. He is doing the best he can and Rosie understands that.
Just as you would think nothing more could go wrong, tragedy occurred. Rosie hadn’t been feeling well and was trying her best to ignore how she was feeling. As the days progressed she could no longer take it and went to the doctor. On May 3, 1977 Rosie got diagnosed with leukemia.
The story is about how Rosie fights the leukemia with all odds against her. The one thing that made me excited to start writing it was the message. Even though everything is going wrong in Rosie’s life she doesn’t complain once or let the cancer, the bills, and her father’s habits get to her. She always thinks about the positive, even when there is nothing positive happening. She doesn’t ever think about how bad her life is. She thanks God everyday for the life she has. She has a father that loves her, he may not be the best dad, but he loves her, she is getting the help she needs to stay healthy, and she has support to help her through the process. So much is just going wrong in her world, but she fails to notice. Yes, she notices. She has to deal with those things everyday, but she learns to make the best of what she has. She is one person in this selfish world that isn’t.
I hope that with me writing this book that somehow, someday it will help change the world. The message in this book is about how you should never take anything for granted because in the end all of those things that you think matter now, wont matter ten years from now. You have to be thankful for what you have, even if it is barely anything like Rosie. I made her character strong because I think more people need to be strong like her. People should stop going to the gym so much and start building muscle in their brains. I am ten, so the odds of my book turning out perfect and publishing quality are far from likely, but my wish is that somebody, someday will read it and see how much potential it has and help me fix it up a little. I believe that if people actually read it and try to understand it, they will learn something. Who knows someday my book might actually change the world for the better.
So far the book is going a little slow, but I am working on it as much as I can. I am really excited to see how it turns out because I believe that it could actually be a really good book. Like I said before, of course couldn’t be publishing quality, but in my eyes it could be really good. Considering a ten year old wrote it. I have a feeling my future is going to bright and hopefully I can help change the world along with everything else. I guess we will just have to wait and see how it turns out, but I am in love with it so far. Which is a good thing considering an author always has to be in love with her books in order for them to be good. Plus the fact that if the author is in love with her book that means the readers will be amazed because if you are a good author, by the time you have read through your finished product a million times proof reading it, you should be so sick and tired of it. I just hope when I finish writing my book that I love it as much as I do now. I can’t wait to see the finished product!
Future Author <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
February 17, 1991
Dear mom and dad,
What if I were a bird? Graceful, yet determined. Small, yet fierce. Most importantly free. You might see a beautiful blue bird singing outside your window in the morning and by the time for it to sing another morning melody it is singing it to someone else half way around the United States. That is something that I would want, freedom. Free to do whatever, whenever. If I felt like soaring over the mountains of Colorado I could, or a genital pond in South Carolina, I could do that too. I would find it comforting to know that I always would have a spot in the world. That I am not stuck in one spot doing one thing all of my life.
I sit wondering when I am going to find my freedom while I watch a blue bird outside my bedroom window. It is here now, but in a day or two it could be in Atlanta or Florida. That is the thing about birds, they can adapt quickly and easily to any environment, that is except the cold. But who really likes the cold anyway? Not me. If I had the choice I would fly to Florida every winter and South Carolina every summer. I want to move to South Carolina when I get older. There is something about the south that interests me. I am not sure if it is the farms, or the horses, or the beach that is there no matter summer or winter. I think it is just this picture I get every time I think of the south. I picture a big family grilling out with a couple of friends and then sitting on the front porch watching the sun set listening to country music. That, to me would be my way of ending every non stressful way of every week. Sunday mornings waking up at nine every morning to the smell of homemade bacon and eggs, putting on your best clothes and going to a small white church with three singles bells at the very top. Small towns are my thing. At least right now. Who knows years from now I might be living in the biggest city around, New York. But for right now I am content to daydreaming about South Carolina and all of it’s wonders.
Dreaming of how it would be like to be a bird and live in South Carolina is all find and dandy, but it won’t help the fact that I have bigger problems that I am trying to avoid. They are not really problems they are more worries than problems. So, far my leukemia is holding up the fight. It is strong, evidently and every time I go to get chemotherapy done and more cancer cells die, more are born. It is like a never ending process, but Dr. Cole said that I am holding up well, though. My body is a lot stronger than it was before. He is not sure why or how, it just is. I am not sure, but sometimes I think it is from all that I do. I do a lot. A lot more than someone with cancer should be doing that is for sure, but I enjoy it. I enjoy getting up at seven every morning and going to school instead of sleeping all day. I enjoy coming home and going on a walk with Claude everyday. I enjoy I writing as much as I do and I most definitely enjoy trying to make the world a little brighter. I am not a big fan of all of the homework though. That I could do without. I like doing all of those things and I think that now I am sort of the way back to normal I am feeling better and stronger.
Now that I am back in school Claude has gotten a part time job. It is his duty around the house to watch all of the kids when they get home from school. Aunt Marci gets home around six every night and she expects him to make sure everyone has their homework done and dinner on the table. Thankfully, in high school they required a cooking class to graduate, so Claude learned some things, but cooking is still not his strong suit, but we manage. He works at a pharmacy down town. He mainly takes the prescriptions and gives people the medicine, not all of the technical stuff. He thinks it will be good for his upcoming career as a doctor, that is once he gets into college. It is strange how he can be so comfortable talking about what he wants to do with his life when he isn’t pursuing it. For me it would kill me just sitting on the sidelines. If I wasn’t in high school I would be in college not home taking care of my little sister with cancer. Maybe that is the difference between Claude and I. I think that is a good quality for an upcoming doctor to have, though. To be willing to do everything and anything to save a life or help a patient. Maybe all of this was Gods plan for him. To help him learn how to be a great doctor.
Anyways, he gets off work at two thirty. Just in time to make it back home before Kara, Hailey, Tony and myself get home. He is a big help with Aunt Marci. Ever since Uncle Jeff left for work in Indiana Aunt Marci has been running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off trying to get everything in order. Crazy really, one parent to eight kids. Let’s just say in a way Claude’s decision to stay home in such a miserable time was a very helpful one. Plus Tracy has been a big help also. She watches the twins while Claude is making dinner and checking on everyone else. All in all our family is extremely helpful when it comes to only having one parent at the time. We are truly blessed to have each other.
Ever since Claude made the decision to stay home and take care of me he hasn’t been his normal cheery self. He is not depressed; at least it hasn’t gotten that bad yet. There is a difference, but only I can notice. No one else thinks there is anything wrong. I asked Tracy the other day if she thought Claude looked a little sad. She said that he looked normal to her. I guess since I have gotten so close to him that I notice things that most don’t. Which might be a bad thing and I might be just paranoid. It could have been anything and I was just making a big deal about it. It might have been the way he would look right before he noticed I would walk into his room. Once I was in the room he would pull off this big, toothy smile. It isn’t his normal, true smile. It was surely a fake. Like it was pushed and pressured. It also might have been the way he would get distracted when I would talk to him. We wouldn’t be talking about anything important and when he would do it he would get back on track and either answer my question or give me some helpful advice. Although that is Claude for you. He might never be paying attention very well, but somehow he always seems to pull off some amazing advice or answer to your question. He would have a way of just gazing off into space like he forgot he was talking to someone, but his brain was still possessing everything. It was like he was distracted by something that wasn’t there. There would be times when I would just stop talking after he started gazing away and just watch him. It only would take him a minute or two to realize I had stopped talking. Once he did he would ask me what was wrong because by then I would have this confused look on my face from trying to figure him out.
Most of the time I would just let it be and ignore those little things. I thought he was just worried or stressed about something. That it would go away just as fast as it came. I asked him once what he was thinking about when he was gazing away. He answered not knowing what I had meant by that. I don’t think he realized he was doing it. Although he knew good and well that he wasn’t thinking about what he was going to cook for dinner. He ended up saying he was fine and that I should stop worrying about him. I never asked him again. That is, until I realized what was really bothering him.
We had a surprise visitor a couple of weeks ago. Someone we haven’t seen in a long while. At first I wasn’t sure how good of an idea it was for her to stop by. Allison was home for an extended Christmas break, so she said. The only problem was it that she wasn’t suppose to be here. Her Christmas break ended on January 1st and it was already February. She came by our house Saturday morning when everyone was eating breakfast. It was extremely surprising because she hadn’t even stopped by to see us when she was on her Christmas break. Ever since her and Claude agreed it would be better if they were just friends, at least until he went away for college in the fall, they hadn’t done too much talking. Claude said it was because there was nnothingto say, but just because I am ten doesn’t mean I don’t understand love. I have watched movies before and just because I can’t comprehend love I can still comprehend the movie. I knew that they both were trying to ignore each other because they knew that if they were to start talking again they would be able to control their feelings. Hey I don’t blame them. If I were in love with someone, but it couldn’t be I would want to keep as far away from him as I can. Just try to ignore him until I moved on. It makes complete sense.
Anyways, since they hadn’t talked in so long I think Claude kind of went into shock when she just showed up that Saturday. He wasn’t even dressed. He was still in his pajamas. When the doorbell rang I went to open it and when I saw it was Allison I wasn’t sure what to do. After a minute or two at the door with no talking everyone started getting a little restless and asked me who was at the door. When I didn’t answer Claude came and saw for himself. I think he was both shocked and speechless because he too waited there for a minute before speaking. Then once he remembered he was about to have a crowd watching him he took her by the arm and made her follow him onto the porch and then closed the door in my face. After a half hour passed Allison and Claude entered the house. By then everyone’s plates were empty and belly’s were full, but still no one moved from the table. He led Allison to the couch and went into the dinning room. He asked to talk to Aunt Marci, Uncle Jeff, and me. Although I wasn’t sure why I needed to be there. I guess for moral support. He ended up asking Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff if Allison could stay here for a few days because she was having some family issues. Uncle Jeff said it was up to Aunt Marci if that was alright since he was going back to Indiana Sunday. Aunt Marci said that she could stay here, but not for long.
After they both got settled Claude asked me to go on a walk with him. Allison was inside taking a short nap since she didn’t get much sleep last night. For the first couple minutes no one talked. I knew Claude wanted to talk to me about why Allison was here and his feelings toward that, but nnothingseemed to come out. After we got a couple of blocks away Claude finally spilled. He said that Allison was having some trouble in college with her grades and being home sick. After being home for so long on Christmas break she realized everything that she was missing. Her family, her friends, and most of all Claude. He told me that she said she knew she shouldn’t call or even try to stop by when she was here on Christmas break and she didn’t, but that was one of the hardest things she has ever done. She told him that she loved him and that every minute of everyday she couldn’t stop thinking about him. She said she knew that it was wrong for her to come home when she had classes that following week. Plus it was especially wrong for her to come to our house, but she didn’t know what else to do. It was like her body forced her to get in her car and drive this far, but when she got her she didn’t know what to do. She knew what she wanted to do. She knew she wanted to do exactly what she had done. Come to our house and talk to Claude. Even if he didn’t feel the same way about her. She knew that she couldn’t go home. Her family loves her more than anything, but wants the best for her, and coming home when she has classes to take the next week wouldn’t be something that they would love. She said she didn’t plan on coming here right away, but didn’t know what else to do.
After Claude got done saying all of that he got mute. For another block we walked in silence. I knew he was thinking and I knew that in a lot of ways it wasn’t very hard thinking; he was only making it hard. He knew the truth, but didn’t want to admit it. Once I could see he was done fighting with himself I asked him what he thought about Allison. He never told Allison that he loved her when they were dating over the summer, but then again that might only be because he knew she was going away. The feeling might be there, but the words just didn’t come out.
It turns out that I was right about the most part anyways. He said that when Allison showed up this morning, yes he was in shock, but then again some part of him was relived. He wanted to see her bad. Right then and there the crazy, not responsible part of him wanted to take her in his arms and never let her go again, but the more reasonable, responsible part of him wanted to get this over with and get her to leave before the not responsible part over took the responsible part. He didn’t know what to do because he knew what he wanted to do, but he knows what he should do. In this case there really isn’t an in between stage. He could take her back and try to make a long distant relationship or he could let her go and wait until he goes off to college and if they meet again something might happen. He knew that if he were to take her back and if they were to try a long distance relationship that somehow one of them would get hurt. Either that or they would screw up their future by trying to make it work. She would be in New York trying to figure out when she should call or when she can leave and totally forget why she is there in the first place, which is for school.
A half of a year. No, not even that anymore. Four and a half months until she would be coming home for summer. Could she wait four and a half months for their relationship to bloom again? The better question is can he wait that long? There was one thing Claude knew. He knew that while she was gone she was the only thing he would ever think about. All of those times he couldn’t stay concentrated, you can blame her for that and all of that odd behavior you can also blame on Allison. He said that he knew he loved her, but wants the best for her and right now it is getting through college with good grades. Both of their future with or without each other is what is most important. If he couldn’t be in her life, he at least wanted to know that her future is bright. So far, since she ended up coming all the way to Cincinnati from New York because she was home sick, she hasn’t been making much progress with her future. She knew that and in a way Claude knew that might have been one of the reasons she came. So she could go back knowing how he felt.
Once we got back from our walk things got even more awkward. No one knew exactly what was going on and honestly I don’t think they do even now. Aunt Marci included. Sunday came around and Claude knew he needed to talk to Allison. She made a big mistake coming here and risking her future. He didn’t want to see her future come crashing to an end because of him. So, Sunday morning he took Allison on a car ride. No, he wasn’t going to make her go back to New York. That was her decision, but she couldn’t stay here. He needed to get that through her head. When they got back, three hours after they left, we all sat down for dinner. Allison had dinner with us and then packed her things and left. She thanked Aunt Marci for letting her stay here and told everyone goodbye. Claude walked her out to her car, told her something else, kissed her on her forehead, and then she was gone.
What happened on that three hour car ride I may never know. Claude wasn’t in any mood for story time for a couple of weeks after she left. Things slowly started getting back to normal for him and he actually looked a lot happier. Whatever happened in that car ride I may never know, but I have a feeling this won’t be the last time we see Allison around. Especially in about four and a half months.
Maybe true love does exist.
Jezzabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
March 8, 1991
Dear mom and dad,
Spring is finally here again. I am happy to say that this winter hasn’t been as bad as last winter. The depression that keep me down all of last winter ceased to show up much this winter. I think I felt so good this winter because I keep as busy as I could. Plus I had things to look forward to. I wasn’t in the hospital which could have made a big difference in my attitudes. Health wise things could be better I guess, but over all everything is ok. A lot of things have been happening lately which means less time spent on focusing on getting better. I know that is my main priority right now, but in a way keeping as busy as I can is helping me get better, in an ironic way anyway.
Both Aunt Marci and Claude are noticing little things about my health that are starting to concern them. Aunt Marci knows that I am getting better, but feels everything, even eating should come after my health. She knows that I have been slacking, if you will say, on trying to get better. I am not getting as much sleep as I can. Plus the other day I accidentally forgot to take one of my many pills. In a way I knew that I forgot to take it because I was running late for school, but in my mind I wanted to think I forgot to take it because I have so many and it must of slipped. That day I learned how important my medicine really is because around noon I started feeling horrible. My body was aching all over along with nausea and a horrible head ache. It literally took me a whole hour to get up the nerve to go to the nurse and have Aunt Marci or Claude come and get me. I knew that Aunt Marci didn’t know I forgot to take the pill yet. Honestly I didn’t even know what pill it was that I forgot. They are all a big blur now. After an hour of pure misery I finally went to the nurse and called Aunt Marci. She wasn’t happy I forgot to take my pill and instead of her being mad I thought I would just tell her that there is just too many and that I need to try harder to keep track of them all. She ended up believing me and let it slid. Claude ended up leaving work early and picked me up.
Claude on the other hand thinks that I am working myself too hard. He knows the school is extremely stressful especially when you do not want to have to be home schooled from missing so many days. He also knows that I try my best and that is all I can do. Everyone in my family knows that I love to write, but they think it is just a hobby. Nothing that they should be regularly thinking about. Claude on the other hand knows about my book that I am writing. He thinks that it is a really good idea for a book. He has always been supportive about things like that. He knows that I am for sure capable of writing it. He knows that between school, doctors appointments, treatments, homework, exercise, and writing that I have a lot on my plate. Then again he knows that I am not a person to just give up one of those things. So, he told me the other day when Aunt Marci told me she was concerned about my health, that as long as I understand that getting better is my first and foremost priority, that is all that matters. I know that I am not working myself too hard. At least I think. Truthfully I have always been that kind of person that would wait until I am laying on the floor to say that I am working myself too hard. I still do think that keeping myself as busy as I can will help me get better. Everything just feels weird and not right when I am not busy. It feels like I am back in the hospital once again, even when I am not.
Last week was extremely hectic. All together I had three different treatments and four visits to see Dr. Cole. I am afraid to say things didn’t go so well with all of that. Me, being me, there had to be something that goes wrong. I can’t just have everything go right for once. Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Monday I had a doctors appointment with Dr. Cole. Just an annual weekly check up, nothing out of the normal. The plan had been for weeks that I would get chemotherapy done that Wednesday. Which means that starting Monday the week after I should be able to attend school again. I had to have multiple tests done that Monday to see if my counts were high enough to get the chemo done. After hours of waiting for the results to come back Dr. Cold called us back. By then it was already nine and our appointment was at four. Five hours passed already. Dr. Cole showed us the results that came back. Unfortunately my blood count was 428 and your blood count has to be at least a 750 for them to do the chemo. So, since my blood count was so low my Wednesday chemo session was rescheduled for Friday, but even that will be a stretch. Dr. Cole said that my counts have been dropping like flies lately and not all of it is because of the treatments. Just because my spirits are up doesn’t mean my counts are up along with it. Dr. Cole said that most likely my counts won’t be rising much for a while, but just incase he wanted to get the chemo over and done with sooner than later, so he went and scheduled it for next Friday just incase.
He wanted to get my counts up again so we can proceed with session three of chemo in a couple months, but I have to finish session two first. That meaning, Dr. Cole scheduled me to come in for appointments throughout the week so he can try to reboot my counts. By the time we got home from the Rehabilitation Center it was near midnight and we were both exhausted! Both of my arms were sore from all of the needles and blood they took from me. Thankfully I got all of my homework done while we were waiting in the waiting room for two hours. Sadly, Dr. Cole gave me some new medicine to up my counts which caused me spending the night with my head over the toilet. Gross, huh? Yeah, well I am use to it. I remember before when I was afraid to vomit and now, well now it is like an everyday thing especially right after I just got chemo done. All of the medicine in all of the treatments and chemotherapy I get have brutal side effects. Most of the time none of the medicine goes very well with my stomach and until my body gets immune to the drug I spend most of my time either laying in bed or running to the bathroom.
On Tuesday Aunt Marci let me stay home from school, although she didn’t exactly have a hard call since I spent most of my night laying on the bathroom floor. I spent most of the day sleeping the hours I didn’t sleep last night. Usually when I have had a bad night like last night I am usually off the next day since I spent the day sleeping and the night vomiting. Once I get off track it sometimes is hard to get back on, especially when you have to get up at seven in the morning the next day to go to school.
Wednesday I went to school. It was a little rough and a stretch, but I made it through. Getting up at seven every morning is not my favorite part about going to a public school, but something that I would prefer instead of being home schooled. Ever since Dr. Cole found out about the deal I made with Dr. Reed he has been keeping good track on my grades and my attendance. This week is going to be close to topping the list off and we both knew it. Being out so much isn’t exactly killing my grades only hurting them. I am usually very good at accomplishing make-up work and catching up with the other students, thankfully. Sadly, my grades are mostly C’s at the moment, when they use to not shift away from an A. Hopefully once I start my third session of chemotherapy things will start getting better and I can go to school more.
Wednesday after school when Claude came to pick me up we went straight from school to the Rehabilitation Center. Aunt Marci couldn’t get off work in time to take me so Claude stepped in. He has only been to the Rehabilitation Center a couple of times in the past, so it was a new experience for him. We ended up getting there twenty minutes early and Dr. Cole was still with another patient. When we were waiting I decided to go play over in the play area. While there I met a new friend. She has leukemia too. Her name is Ashlee and she is only eight. She said that it was her first time coming to this doctor. I asked her what doctor she had when she was at the hospital and guess what? She had Dr. Reed too! It turns out she only lives a couple of blocks down from us. Her mother is a single parent so it is just as hard for them as it is for us. We got to talking and I found out we have a lot in common. She is still only on the first stage of chemo, though. Her counts haven’t been so good lately either, so Dr. Reed didn’t know when she could move on to session two. Ashlee said that she was nervous about coming here because Dr. Reed said that it would be totally different, but I reassured her that everything was going to be ok and that things aren’t that different. I told her about Dr. Cole, my doctor, and about how he does things. I also told her how she has to be completely honest with him because if she is not he might not know if she is ok. She asked me if session two is worse than session one in chemotherapy. I told her that it is a lot more time consuming and the medicine is much higher. I told her that after a while she will get use to it, especially the part where you have to get watched all day everyday. Aunt Marci and Ashlee’s mom got to talking too. Ashlee’s family is having the same struggles financially as we are, but just like I reassured Ashlee, Aunt Marci reassured her mom. Aunt Marci told, Kelly, Ashlee’s mom, about all we have went through so far. Kelly was amazed at it all. She was amazed by how our family is so willing to help out and work a little harder when needed. By the time we got called back we had already made a play date for this weekend at my house!
Thursday I went to school again and things went a little more smoothly this time. I wasn’t totally exhausted. The day at school went good as usual and when the bell rang at the end of the day it was Claude again who picked me up. Once again we went straight from school to the Rehabilitation Center. The traffic was kind of bad so we got there just on time, which meant no play time. That was ok though because Ashlee wasn’t there anyways.
When Friday came around I was exhausted with the week. Oddly enough, most of the time when Friday rolls around I am just a little bit sad that I have to wait two whole days until I get to see my friends again at school. This week I couldn’t wait for the bell to ring at three-thirty. My friend Sasha has been driving me crazy ever since school started. She is usually not this nosey, but the minute I say something about leukemia she is all questions. Even when I don’t say anything about my health she asks tons of question. Hard questions too. Ones that make you think and a lot that I don’t want to answer or even think about. Friday she just pushed me overboard totally! All week I have been extremely stressed about grades, my attendance at school, all of these doctors appointments, and whether or not I am going to be able to get chemo done Friday or whether they are going to have to reschedule once again. Plus the fact that all I ever want to do anymore is go home and write until my fingers ache from holding a pencil. I have been getting pretty far in my book and it has only been a couple of months. So far I really like it. The only problem is I am always thinking about it. Even at school or at the doctors. I am always coming up with new ideas or how I can improve on something. I already hardly get to school as much as I should and focusing all of my attention on my book is not a good way to stay in school when I am trying to prove a point to Dr. Cole and Dr. Reed.
The point is, I have been extremely stressed all week and adding a nosey friend to the equation is not on my to-do list. When we get in school we all usually have ten or twenty minutes where we just talk until the bell to start the day sounds. My friends and I usually get in a big group and chat. Almost everyday you can guarantee that Sasha will ask me a question that I either don’t want to answer or can’t answer. Today it was both. She asked me if I thought I was going to die. I mean she has gotten personal many times, but she never has even steered close to asking me about death. I was totally caught off guard and didn’t know what to say. Honestly I had never really thought about that and didn’t want to either. Did I actually think I was going to die or not? I didn’t know. Dr. Cole said that I was getting better, right? Well he never actually said those words exactly, but he has implied that, right? Am I honestly sick enough to die? Or will I get sick enough to die? I don’t know and I don’t even think I want to know. At least not right now. If I was sick enough to die then I would want to know, but not now when I still have my hopes up. I will have them up until those words come out of Dr .Cole’s mouth.
When Sasha asked that question it was like I couldn’t hold it in anymore. All of my stress and anger that was building up all week just like exploded. The only sad part was it exploded on someone who didn’t deserve it. Yes, her question wasn’t at all appropriate, but she was just curious. She didn’t want to make me feel bad. She never did, but the words just slipped out. While I was going off on her everyone in the fifth grade just stared. Since everyone was in one hallway of course they heard me, but it was like I forgot where I was or that around a hundred fifth graders were there watching me while I yelled and went off on Sasha. Once I was done I felt a lot better. Everything was off my chest and I could go on with my day in hopes that the end comes faster and I can start my weekend stress free. The only problem with that was that when I finally got done Sasha ran out of the hallway and into the girls bathroom. As you might imagine all of my friends went running after her. Great start to my Friday that was suppose to be stress free. You go off on one of your friends, you get the rest of your friends mad at you, and you make yourself look like you are a crazy person for yelling, by the rest of the fifth grade. Oh, and my day only gets worse because once the school day started I got called down to the principals office because Sasha had told on me. Great, I thought! I told the principal the truth. That I was stressed and mad that she was all up in my business and I just lost it. It was my intention to hurt her feelings or to yell at her. In the end I didn’t get in trouble, but I did have to apologize, which I was going to do anyways.
By three-thirty I was so relived school was over I could sing. That was until I realized I had to go to see Dr. Cole and all of his tests that would take hours. Oh, and it did. Claude picked me up again and he was prepared. He brought a bunch of paper work from work to work on and a book. I guess Aunt Marci had mentioned how long it took us last time. Since it was Friday and I was suppose to get chemo done, Dr. Cole had to do more test to see if my blood counts were high enough to get it done. Plus they were busy, so Dr. Cole was fifteen minutes late getting me back there. They have to give me medicine before I get the test done. I am not sure what it is for. He told me, but I didn’t understand, so I didn’t press it any further. The medicine takes an hour to get through my system and it tastes really bad. Every time that I have had to taken the medicine it has either given me really bad cramps or I have vomited. Two things I wasn’t looking forward to. Of course this time it had to make me vomit. Claude is good at a lot of things and I predict he will be an amazing father one day, but he can not handle vomiting. He is like me, he hates getting sick. So, I had to go to the bathroom by myself when Aunt Marci usually goes with me. Thankfully it didn’t upset my stomach too bad. The test only took twenty minutes and after that I went back to the waiting room to wait for the results. If they came back good then I would most likely be getting chemo done today; no matter how late it is. If they were bad then I would be going home and the chemo would get rescheduled once again. After two hours of waiting Dr. Cole called us back. After being there for a little over four hours, we got sent home because my blood counts were still too low. Dr. Cole said that they were close, but not exactly there yet. If I keep working on it I they will probably be there Tuesday or Wednesday. So, he rescheduled the chemo for Wednesday and we called it a night.
I can only hope next week isn’t so hectic. I don’t think my blood pressure could handle another week like the one I had last week! That would be a whole other problem. One that is not needed. Hope everything is going good with you and you aren’t as stressed as I am!
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
April 29, 1991
Dear mom and dad,
April has sprung again with all of the allergies and colds along with it. I love spring so much, but sometimes I wonder if our love is mutual or if spring doesn’t feel the same way about me as I feel for it. Lately with all of the pollen and things blooming it has made it hard for me to be outside. I will take some heavy duty allergy medicine and suffer through since I truthfully love spring.
I sit outside on my porch looking at my pitiful flower garden. I remember I told you about it last year and how it was suffering. Well, this year things have only gotten worse. The flowers that come back yearly have already came back and are looking a little brown, but nothing a little sunshine and rain wont cure. As for all of the other flowers I usually plant around this time, well, they might be on a delay. Things have been pretty hectic lately, even more than usual. I wanted to get out there and plant some new ones, but sadly they will have to wait.
My favorite flower is an orchid. They remind me of Japanese gardens. The Japanese are suppose to have the best gardens in the world, you know. Aunt Marci bought a book once with the top ten worlds fanciest gardens. Most of them were indeed from Japan. All together I just love nature and being outside. It practically killed me being inside the hospital for so long. Eight months too many I will say. No, it wasn’t from all of the wires and needles that got poked into my skin every five minutes or the medicine smell that wouldn’t seem to leave. It was not being able to see the sun or nature. Yes, most of the time I was in the hospital it was winter, but still I could at least go out and play in the snow. Even if I couldn’t do that I could always just go outside and watch it. I would most likely be wishing that it were rain drops rather than snow, but just being outside and feeling free is what would make me feel better.
I think every girl has dreamed about their fairytale ending. I sure have. Just like everyone has dreamed of it, most girls fairytale endings are close to the same. They want a real fairytale ending. One that could be made into a book, and then into a movie, and then into a Barbie doll that every girl in the world has. Mine is the same. I want more than anything to be swept off my feet by this romantic, muscular, handsome, talented, smart, funny, hero who most definitely has to be sensitive. I want to fall in love with this guy, but I want it to be a forbidden romance.(Since most of those romances are the real ones and not fakes.) Although most of the time the endings are sad in those kinds of stories. In my ending I want everything to work out and I want to have a nice big wedding with tons of people watching as I take my last stride as a single woman. Do I care how big the ring is? No, of course not. I just want the love to last. I want to grow old with this man who will be the dad to my children. I want to live in a big, Victorian, white house out in the country. Most importantly I want land. I want to become a famous author that gets all of her inspiration out in her beautiful double garden. One that will show up any Japanese garden any day.
Ever since I read Alice in Wonderland I feel in love with it, especially the gardens. Gardens you would only see the Queen of England in. I want two gardens, both as equally brilliant as the other. Two totally different gardens, but both unique in their own way. I want one garden to be a day garden and I want the other to be a night garden. Sounds strange, huh? I can see how you could think that. I want the day garden to be just like in Alice in Wonderland. I want rows and rows of rose bushes that are cut into hearts. I want
flowers to make a maze throughout the yard. One that ends up making one big heart with the initials of me and my lover. The best part is you can only see it from the sky, which makes everything even more romantic.
I want the night garden to be smoothing and comforting. One that I can go to after a long day of writing. Doesn’t seem like much, right? Writing that is, but it is hard work. You have so much to decide and if you decided you don’t like it you have to go all the way back to the beginning and start all over again. You have to come up with all of the characters, the plot, and don’t forget the setting. Everything has to fall into place and if it doesn’t your book is going to be a disaster. Every book needs some kind of conflict that has to be perfectly compatible with everything else you decided. Filling a blank piece of paper with words is hard work, trust me.
In my night garden I want lazy trees. You know the kind where it kind of slumps to make shade. I want those along with comforting flowers. Exotic flowers, whereas in my day garden I want traditional flowers like roses and daises. I want a pond with a water fall that has a sing to it. One that will put you to sleep. I want to be able to go out there and try to read, but only get a couple of pages in before the flow of the stream slowly starts to put me to sleep. I want my night garden to be more mysterious and peaceful.
I know that is A LOT to ask for. Trust me Claude tells me that all of the time and Aunt Marci too. Practically anyone who I tell all of that to does. A girl can dream though, right? Dream of a fairytale ending. One where she gets the perfect guy, but not before a long struggle and fight. Where she gets the dream job and the dream house. Even where she gets the dream life style. One where stress and worries doesn’t exist. Right now I feel like I need that. I feel like I deserve that. I might just be selfish by saying all of that, but in the last year I think I have struggled and worried enough to last me a lifetime. I may be wrong though. Aunt Marci says that most guys she has ever been in contact with have only had around three of those seven character traits my dream guy has. She did say that one had one or two more than the rest. Yes, of course that was Uncle Jeff. For every girl there is a dream guy. It tends to vary depending on the girl, but in the end most of the guys only have a small number of the traits you want them to have. You are extremely lucky if you find one with all of them and he isn’t taken. When dealing with love everything has to fall into place, kind of like destiny. In some cases it might just be destiny, others it is not even close.
Along with putting down my dream guy, Claude eventually put down my dream job and dream house too. He said that nowadays more and more people aren’t going to college which means their dreams of becoming successful and living out their dream careers are coming to a halt. In a way it is hard to take Claude very seriously when he choose staying here and taking care of me instead of going to college right away. So many people think that was the stupidest move he could ever make and some people think that it was the sweetest move he could ever make. Unfortunately there is no way to tell whether that move was the right one or the wrong one until everything is over with and he has lived it. When I told him how hard it is to take him seriously when he is talking about college and jobs he told me that the truth is he was scared and still is of growing up and moving away. He told me that he was scared about a lot of things and still is scared of a lot of things. First and foremost he was scared that something might happen to me out of nowhere or even worse, the doctors had been wrong about how severe my cancer was. He knows now that I am doing ok and that I am slowly getting better, but before he didn’t know that. He didn’t know how much time he had left to be with me and he wanted to spend every waking hour making it even better than the last. I wasn’t sure how to react to that. One piece of me wanted to just forget what he had said and not let it get to me. I think everyone would want to do that, but forgetting has to be the hardest thing for anyone to do. Things were going ok and I was getting better. Worrying now would be useless, right? A big waste of my time. All of my big worries should have ended the day I got into remission, but him telling me this only made me get more worried. I knew that I shouldn’t have started to worry again, but him telling me this only made me realize what all I have to lose. I don’t really want to talk about death. I never had. I have been doing so well to keep it out of my mind. In a way I feel like I have let myself down by writing it down now. I have made it this far without saying the D word and I can make it as long as I need to without saying it. At least I hope I am that strong.
Along with that worry, Claude mentioned how leaving home scared him too. In his life he has only really had one family and just getting up and leaving it behind while he is away at college would make him feel like he is losing that family too. Being so far away and hardly ever getting to see us isn’t on his to-do list. He said he just wished he could pick everyone up and take us with him when he went away. He would miss us all like crazy; just like Allison was missing her family.
Also the whole failure thing worried Claude. He didn’t really mean that all dreams were never to come true. What he meant was that dreams can come true, but with determination and hard work. His grades have always been good in high school, but college is a whole different ball game; one that he is not sure if he can keep up with. His dream is as big as mine; all of mine. He has the determination and the work ethic to go with it, so in my point of view, failing at his dream is something I wouldn’t expect seeing from him. But of course he can’t see that.
I am not sure how an A+ student can be so afraid of going to college when in reality he really has it in the bag. At least that is what I think anyways. So, I will do my best to try to explain how successful he is going to be if he just gets out there. You know, they always say that the first step is the hardest, but once you have taken it you will be glad you did. Only if he could just see that.
Claude and I both saw what college has impacted Allison. It is a huge step in life, but everyone has to take it. Most people are excited about college, but me on the other hand is a lot like Claude. Seeing how Allison hasn’t had such a good college experience and seeing how scared Claude is about going, really all it is doing is making me afraid of turning eighteen and heading off to a whole different state without your family; without support. There it is like starting all over again. Like moving to a new school. You have to make new friends. You have to leave behind your old friends and family; the people who are always going to be on your side. You have to make new friends and live on your own. All things that can be very scary for someone who has had to grow up with the most tragic, terrifying memories like Claude has. He has a new family now and he doesn’t want to let that go. I am just glad I don’t have to start worry about that for a while. I have so many other things to worry about right now.
Lately I have been working hard on my book that I am writing. I am only on chapter three, but I am doing my best and writing as much as I can. I had Claude read over the first chapter the other day. He corrected some spelling mistakes and punctuation mistakes. He said he only saw a few, which is really suspiring since I can only spell a hand full or words right. I asked him what he thought of it so far and he said that he was very impressed. He was surprised at how detailed it was. He definitely wasn’t expecting it to be that good. After he said all of that my spirits were definitely lifted. I thought I could write good and now it just comes to show that now someone else thinks so too. He may be my brother and he may feel conflicted to say the best he can about it, but I will take what I can get and hope that he really does like it. After I am all the way finished with it I will have to go back and change something’s, but for now I am impressed myself with my work. Who knows maybe next month I might even let you read my first chapter. That is if you do read my letters. I think you might even be impressed too. You will just have to wait and see.
Hope you are doing great and enjoying the weather!
Jezzabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
May 14, 1991
Dear mom and dad,
Guess what next month is? My birthday! My eleventh birthday. I am very excited. For some reason I am getting extremely excited about my birthday this year and last year I couldn’t wait for it to be over with. I guess it could be the fact that as another year of my life goes by another year I get closer to being cancer free. At least I hope that is how it goes. You can never be too sure, though.
Last month I said that I might let you read the first chapter out of my book that I am writing. I thought about it and I thought what do I have to lose? Lately I have been getting this weird, scared feeling about writing. I know I love to write, but I don’t know how good my writing is. Yes, last month I had Claude read my writing and he said he actually liked it, but as I got to thinking about it all I realized that in a way he has to say things like that. He is obliged to say that. He is my brother. In reality I really don’t know how good my writing is. It could be horrible and I don’t even know it. I hope it isn’t horrible. So, I have decided that if you were to read my writing and be totally honest with me about it then I might actually know how good I am. Here it goes. This is the first chapter of my book. I hope you like it.
Rose takes the name of a flower. A red, sweet smelling flower, that is most commonly seen in flower vases sold at your local flower shop. Rose’s mom, Heather had a little more romantic feel to the name Rose; at least that is what Rose’s dad said anyways. Heather was different than anyone Rose‘s father, Declan, had ever meet. He never thought that at first sight, wearing her mini skirt and black tank reading bad, would be a deep, loving teenager. Heather choose the name Rose for her first daughter not because it was a name of a flower. Heather had given Rose her name because a rose is the number one sign of love; at least to Heather anyways. At the time love was all Heather could give Rose and by choosing her name wisely she was able to, in her own way, show how much she really loves her daughter.
This is not my story, but I feel this is my story to tell. Things happen in life. Things you can not control. That is life. When the news struck I didn’t know what to do. So, I went out and bought this diary. In a way the diary is not for me to write my future in; it is for me to write my past, with all of my feelings attached. If I am going to tell you the story then I should start from the beginning; the very beginning. A lot has happened over the years and my memory is surely not as good as it was years ago, so some of the details might be lacking perfection, but I will try. So, here it goes; the beginning of the story.
Heather had been different all of her life in one way or another. Other girls at her school seemed to have a balance in between the two sides of Heather. She tried most of her life to find that balance, but realized a little too late that her life wasn’t suppose to have that balance. She was born to stand out and to be different, she just didn’t see it. All through elementary school and part of junior high school she tried to be herself. As the years went by she soon realized more and more that being herself wasn’t what her class mates wanted. Heather had felt like a loner most of her school life and didn’t want to stick with being herself; the loner. She wanted people to like her and she was willing to change herself to do it. When Heather started eighth grade it was like Heather had changed into a whole other person, and not for the better. Instead of being the lover of life, the girl who couldn’t stop smiling if you made her, even the girl who was in love with nature, she turned into the girl who took two hours getting ready in the morning, and ended up walking out of the house wearing mini skirts and tank tops. Instead of continuing her perfect attendance record at school, Heather started skipping at least one class every week. Instead of getting confirmed into the Junior National Honor Society, Heather’s straight A’s turned into straight D’s. Heather’s mom and dad’s perfect little girl turned into the school bad girl in a matter of weeks.
The new friends that Heather made weren’t the best of people either. It was like Heather was prone to finding friends that would only get her into more trouble. They weren’t friends they were more like gangs, but Heather refused to call them that. That is how Heather meet Declan, in detention. Heather was in there for skipping class and Declan was in there for vandalism. Heather and Declan had known each other since they were five, but never took a liking to each other until that day in detention in the eighth grade. Declan had thought that Heather was pretty, but terribly not his type. He was the bad boy and he wanted a bad girl.
Declan’s story was a little different. He had known who he was since the day he was born. He wasn’t bad like bad, bad, but he was raised a certain way and in a way, being bad was all he knew. He had tried to fit in with the normal group of kids when he was younger, but just couldn’t. He knew he wouldn’t fit in and he wasn’t going to try to. Once he started being himself he understood where he was meant to fit in. Declan’s mother was never what you would call a good role model. She had him when she was eighteen and no where prepared to care for a child. Declan’s father never stayed. The minute he found out Declan’s mother, Lisa was pregnant he broke up with her and started dating some other girl. Two months after they started dating he got her pregnant too. He left Lisa to take care of Declan all by herself. Lisa wasn’t ever the brightest crayon in the box when it came to school. She ended up graduating, but never moved on to college. In Declan’s mind Lisa was the person to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, worked at a strip bar, stayed out all hours of the night with her new boyfriend, and came home in the next morning terribly drunk and then sleep all day. Declan didn’t see her as anything else other than a waste of air. You might be thinking that is horrible, that a son would think so less of his mother, but really she deserved a lot less than what Declan gave her. Declan grew up learning from her. Not consciously, but had nothing else to learn from. By the time Declan turned fifteen he had already been arrested twice. Nothing serious, only trespassing and getting into a fight once, but still both times the cops brought him home. Before Declan even got into high school he had been suspended three times and had a daily seat in the detention room. Oh, and Heather knew this too. It was no surprise when she showed up for detention and Declan was there. Declan had his own record right besides his mothers and even longer one to himself. For some reason he liked keeping tabs on himself in his head about everything that he probably shouldn’t have done, but did. You know, the stuff that you either don’t get caught for or isn’t police station important. All the times he and his buddies hung out on the old railroad tracks on the outskirts of town drinking and smoking. All the times something accidentally slipped into his pocket without a price tag and he didn’t get caught. Don’t forget all of the times him and his buddies spray painted some vile, not school appropriate saying on a school wall. All things that weren’t recorded in his file at the police station, but were definitely recorded in his file in his head. It was all a big game for Declan. He didn’t do things thinking about exactly what he was doing and feeling ok about it. No, he just did things without thinking. In a way he knew better, but then again maybe he didn’t. Honestly I am still unsure about that. You may be thinking that I know everything there is to know about Declan Buchanan, but the truth is I don’t and maybe never will.
At first Declan falling in love with Heather was more than a love story. At first Declan falling in love with Heather was mostly for publicity. Heather thought that if people saw her with Declan, they would know she was for real bad, and they did. Heather made new friends and they made her feel like she was one of them. The fighting, stealing, drinking, smoking, and violating meant nothing to Heather. What she really only wanted was to feel like she belonged. It is something everyone wants to feel, but some people are more willing to do more than other people to get it. After a while Heather began to fall. Fall wasn’t exactly the most appropriate word. It was more like driving off a bridge head first without thinking and without looking where she was going. To Heather Declan was different. Yeah, he had a thick crust, but once you got passed the curst he was the most sweetest person she had ever meet. Declan cared about Heather more than she could ever dream of coming from a guy who had a permanent seat in detention. Heather fell in love with Declan and Declan fell in love with Heather.
This is the part of the story where Rose comes into the picture. They were sophomores in high school. Declan was seventeen; he had failed fifth grade, and Heather was sixteen. One time was all it took. Heather knew right away that losing her virginity at such a young age was a mistake. One that she could never take back. It was just after Christmas when Heather took the pregnancy test that came up positive. It was no surprise to Heather. She had a feeling that she was pregnant by the time she slipped her clothes on to leave his house that night. She just had that feeling. Something she could never explain. Telling Declan’s mother was the easy part. Telling Heather’s parents was the hard part. Declan’s mother wasn’t surprised at all. She first did this weird fortune teller thing and told Heather that she knew that she would get pregnant, it was just a matter of time. Second she congratulated both Declan and Heather as if it was a good thing Heather was pregnant. After that she left the room before Declan could get another word in. Heather’s parents were absolutely one hundred percent a different story. Heather’s mother got pregnant with her first child when she was twenty-eight and had been married for almost three years, whereas with Declan’s mother, her story was just like Declan’s. She got pregnant at only age seventeen. In the end it took almost a month before Heather got up enough nerve to tell them. To be honest I think it was more because of all the changes that Heather was having difficulties hiding more and more everyday that really made her go and finally tell than her wanting her parents to know. Their first reaction wasn’t too pleasant either. Heather’s mom first screamed and then fainted; literally fainted. Then once she woke up screamed again. Once her mom stopped freaking out both Heather’s mom and dad gave her a big long lecture about how big of a mistake she had just made and how it was going to ruin her life. Actually it wasn’t really much of a lecture more as it was both her parents yelling at her. Of course Heather wasn’t going to sit there and not fight back. If you thought so, you haven’t been paying very good attention. So, Heather argued with her too perfect, rich parents and then left. On her way out the door her parents told her that if she took one step out the doors she wasn’t allowed back in the house ever! It took only a second to make her decision. Once she was outside and free she felt happy. It was like she was finally winning the game and her parents were losing. Seeing as though Heather had nowhere to stay she ended up staying at Declan’s house. Of course Lisa didn’t mind because when did she ever mind anything?
Ten months later a little baby girl was born on April 14, 1977 at 5:58 at night. After Declan found out Heather was pregnant he had changed. By the time Rose was born Declan was a proud father that was willing to do everything he can to support his little girl. Heather knew that her parents would be right by her side when Rose came. All of the yelling, fighting, and kicking Heather out of the house was all just tough love. When Rose came Heather was right about her parents. They were right by her side. For a while things were ok and Heather actually started to think that things could work out. That is if everyone would try. Heather’s parents did not like Declan and I wonder why? He has a record and got their little girl pregnant! Any parent would definitely no be too fond of a guy like that, but Heather’s parents tried to make things work. At least that is how it seemed. For the first couple of months Heather’s parents helped out a lot. They paid for Rose to go to nursery school while Heather and Declan were at school and they even helped out with some of the bills until both Heather and Declan found after school jobs. Of course that was not nearly enough, but they made due. On the other side, Lisa was a different story like always. Declan asked Lisa to watch Rose once and once was all it took to realize he could not trust his own mother with his child. Things were hard, but no nearly as hard as they could have been if it weren’t for Heather’s parents.
Heather lasted a year with Declan and Rose before her parents got to her. Declan knew it would happen and so did Heather. Declan knew that Heather loved the two of them very much, but Heather’s parents offer was more valuable than Declan’s. They had more to offer Heather than Declan could ever have. One night Heather’s parents asked her to dinner. Heather had asked them if Declan and Rose could come, but her parents said no. She knew that they were going to try to talk her into something and that it wouldn’t work with the two of them around. For the next week after the dinner with Heather’s parents she hadn’t been herself at all. She was thinking a lot and taking walks. Plus she was visiting her parents regularly. Before she didn’t want to speak to them let alone start communicating with them everyday. Declan knew that they had gotten to her and in reality there was nothing left for him to do, but beg and he did. One night after Heather got back from her nightly walk she told Declan she needed to talk. He knew it was coming. He knew she was going to leave him. The talk only lasted twenty minutes before she got up to pack her things. Heather told Declan that her parents had made a better offer to her than he ever could make. He knew that he could not give her much, but he could give her love. Sadly that is not what was most important to her back then. Her parents offered to have fifteen thousand dollars left to Declan and Rose. Then they can all move far away and forget about everything that happened and start over new. In the end Heather made the hardest decision of her life by choosing to go with her parents, but everyone knew that it was the best decision for her. Yes, she would be leaving behind her little baby girl and her love of her life, but she would be gaining a lot more; a new beginning. Loving Declan was like looking through a fish tank. It was see through. Everything was as clear as day and she loved that. When Heather was with Declan she didn’t have to pretend to be that bad girl everyone wanted her to be. She could be the loving girl she had always been. She left all of that along with her baby girl. To her regretting that day she left was like regretting ever changing in the first place. Higher than the crime rate in New York.
Rose has had her struggles in life just like any other teenager in this mixed up, crazy world. Many people have said that she has had more struggles than her fellow peers, but Rose wouldn’t. Some may say that Rose has lived a rather hectic, troublesome, just plain bad life. Of course it isn’t their life to speak about, though. Yes, Rose will agree that she has had her hand of hardships and struggles in her life, but she doesn’t complain; nor will she ever. That is the way Rose was raised. She was raised to think about all of the good things in her life and leave all of the bad things under her bed at night.
Growing up with only a father was never a big deal for Rose. Yes, she missed her mother and wondered about her, but she decided years ago that she wasn’t going to let someone who chose to leave both her and her father bring her down by wonders of what might be. Rose had to wipe away her tears and put on a big girl face instead of living in fantasies. The real world was knocking at her door and she had no choice, but to answer it. The thing that still seizes to amaze me is that Declan really did change. When Heather left he realized what he had to do as a father. The day Rose came into the world Declan promised to protect her and support her as much as he possibly could. Declan was determined to keep that promise. In Declan’s mind he thinks Rose is what really saved him from himself. His high school life before she came along got to the point where he got named most likely to go to jail before he graduated from high school. In reality most of his class mates were sure he would go to jail before he graduated from high school because they thought the day Declan graduated from high school was the day pigs fly. Once he was on his own he learned that staying in school was not a possibility. His after school job was not even close to cutting it. Declan knew that he had to quit school and get a real job; one that would pay all of their bills. That is exactly what Declan did. He dropped out of school his Junior year and started looking for a better job. The only problem with dropping out of high school is that the jobs left for high school drop outs are limited. No one wanted to hire a high school drop out with a police record. In the end he found a job at a local grocery store, but even that was cutting it.
Two years after he dropped out of school Declan learned that he needed a high school diploma to get any job good enough to support a family, so after some begging and pleading he returned back to high school and ended up graduating two years after. Thankfully, Rose didn’t come a minute too late and he ended up not going to jail before he graduated high school!
The thing about being a bad boy is that you get accustomed to that life and all of the temptations that comes with it. Temptations are everywhere, but you have to be the bigger person and look past them. No one is perfect, including Declan. When times got tough he gave in. He would go back to his ways just like he were in high school again. Just like Rose never even existed. Declan started drinking again. The only difference this time is that he was actually old enough to drink, but in a lot of ways he wasn’t responsible enough to know when to stop. When his old drug addict friends came around he thought what the heck, what is one little sale going to hurt? Well in the end it ended up hurting a lot of things. Thankfully Declan was able to pull himself together before he got himself into some real trouble, but not until Declan and Rose were close to getting evicted from our apartment, until he lost his job, and almost was arrested.
Now lets spring forward a little to present day; 1977 to be exact. Rose is fifteen years old and in the ninth grade. Rose’s life style and what it consists is a little different than most of her class mates, but that is Rose’s life and in many ways she wouldn’t give it up for anything. Yes, the temptations are still around and yes, sometimes her father does give in. Declan is trying his best though and is doing everything he can to make things better. He has been drug free for two months now and hasn’t come home drunk in over a week, but all of that is hardly any time at all. To Declan it seems like forever, but to people that have to give him his pay check it seems like a nothing. That is where he runs into some problems. Over the last year Declan has went through around twenty jobs and they weren’t easy to find either! Both Rose and himself spent hours and hours hunched over newspapers and magazines in search of a job for Declan. Weeks would go by; sometimes even months. No one wants to hire a high school drop out that got lucky and went back to high school and got his diploma. No one wants to hire a drug addict that has a drinking problem. Declan has a record of all his mistakes he has ever made in life. Having to look back on all of them every time he goes looking for a job can’t be easy.
Seeing as though Declan can’t keep a job if his life depended on it; which it really does, Rose has had to work after school ever since she was ten. Ever since Rose was ten she has been working at her neighbors flower shop down town. Rose’s neighbor Olivia is not only her neighbor, but her best friend. Declan started renting their apartment when Rose was six. That is all Declan could afford at the time. Things haven’t changed so much since they still can’t afford anything else. Anyways, ever since Declan and Rose moved in Olivia and Rose have been really close. Maybe it was the self pity she took on Rose when her father was out getting drunk at some bar and left her at home. Maybe Olivia had a eight sense and she could just tell Rose was a lover of the world just like herself. Whatever the reason Rose and Olivia took a liking to each other quickly and soon became best friends; even if Olivia is seventeen years older than Rose. Let’s just say that the kids that Rose has to deal with on a daily basis at school don’t get her. That would be putting it lightly. In reality it was like Rose was the punching gloves in a boxing match. She has only gotten physically assaulted twice and once was an accident; they say at least. Other than that only mental blows hit Rose. While they are out trying to make their hair look even bigger than it already is, Rose is in the flower shop with Olivia trying to help make a living. Rose doesn’t fit in for many reasons, but the biggest has to be because of Declan. He isn’t the most suitable father. I think I have already made my points on that, but he loves Rose. The only problem is no one else sees that love. All that they see is what a horrible father he has been. Brooklyn may seem like a big city to you and it is, but word spreads around like wild fire nowadays. It is like people have found a new hobby called gossiping. It is not a good hobby to keep. Since word gets around everyone that Rose has to interact with knows all about her father. Everyone who went to church, really any church, thought that getting a girl pregnant before you were married was a sin. Even if you weren’t all buddy, buddy with God you still would have to deal with your parents wrath, and no one wanted that! Declan’s story is the kind of story people who use to go to school with him would tell their teenager whenever they had their first relationship. Not in a good way. Everyone in town knew all of Declan’s flaws and of course no one could look past Rose being his daughter. So, Rose is the school freak with a father who needs to take some parenting classes. That is how everyone at my school sees Rose. Olivia connects with Rose because she knows what it is like to not fit in. She understands Rose and everything she is going through; at least at school anyways. When it comes to all of the stuff with Declan and paying the bills she listens and tries to understand, but there is only so much people can truly understand without actually living it. Olivia is really a mixture of a best friend and a mother to Rose. In a way isn’t that what parents are suppose to feel like, depending on the child of course. Aren’t parents suppose to be like best friends to their child. If your child is good and you can trust them, then you can be a nice parent and be more on the friend side, but if you have a bad child, one that you don’t trust, then you will have to be more like a parent than a mom. Olivia can’t punish Rose for doing something wrong, but then again if she could there would be few times where she would have to. Rose has always been an angel and always will be. Rose understands she will never have a real mom and she might not even have a fake one either since Declan hasn’t exactly been looking for a relationship, but Olivia is as close as it is going to get when it comes to having a mom.
It is very obvious that Rose is Heather’s daughter. It is not because they look a like, which they do. It is not because they both have names of flowers. No, it is their love that makes an uncanny resemblance. They both love flowers and nature. Picking names of flowers to be their children’s names has been a tradition in Heather’s family for a long time. Just seeing a bright yellow dandelion would always make Heather smile. Most people think that dandelion’s are weeds that should be killed, but to Heather they were always a flower. Something that never deserved to die. Heather always thought that it was kind of like life. She started especially thinking about it when she left Declan and Rose. Heather loved Rose, but neither Declan nor Heather could wipe away the feeling that Rose was a mistake. Rose wasn’t the mistake and Declan made a point to make sure Rose knew that. The mistake was the age and the timing. Five or ten years into the future would have been perfect. When Declan and Heather were married and both had stable jobs and a house. Not when they were in high school and had a very dim future ahead of them.
Heather was not a frequent church person, but until she turned twelve her parents made her go every Sunday. On those Sundays Heather didn’t learn much. She was a child and didn’t have the attention span to understand or at least try to understand. When Heather made her decision to either take her parents offer or stay, it seemed like all of those lectures and sermons at church came back to her. They must have slipped in unconsciously, but they all came back. Heather knew that God works in mysterious ways, but she never thought that God would physically make something bad happen to someone for the better. Isn’t that what happens though? In life the phrase “That’s life” is used on a daily basis. It is obviously a negative saying. If God wants us to be happy then why do bad things happen? The answer Heather came up with was that, God has a plan for all of us. He has a big book and is up in heaven writing our future right now. Whatever is meant to happen will happen. Life is just a big learning experience that you have to learn on the way. When Rose came into Heather and Declan’s life, Heather would have never thought that God had a purpose for doing so other than what is nature. Making her decision, Heather thought about what God’s plan really was for her. What really made her leave was the fact that right then, Heather didn’t have a plan or a bright future. She would have a decision when it came time to decide. She felt like leaving was the only choice left for her.
When Rose was little she use to walk home from school. It was a good twenty block or so from the school to her house, so Olivia invited her to stop by her shop whenever Rose passed it and they could talk and I could get a glass of water. You know just rest a while before she started for home. Declan usually wouldn’t be home by the time she got home anyways, so Rose started walking there everyday after school. That is when Rose really found her love for flowers. Being in Olivia’s shop just made Rose feel peaceful and free. The whole meditating surroundings calmed Rose down after a long day at school. If Rose had to pick her favorite place in the world, anywhere, she would still have picked the flower shop because it felt like home to her. When Rose turned ten and Olivia realized Declan and Rose needed money bad, she agreed to let Rose work part time at the shop. You know doing little things that a ten year old can handle. As Rose got older she started doing more and more. Every year Rose grew the experience of working at a flower shop grew more and more exciting. Now she gets to handle the flowers and sometimes Olivia even lets her arrange them; that is if the order was a small one. She would always have to let Olivia look it over and make sure it was perfect before she gave it to the customer, though.
I have always had struggles staying positive. That has to be the number one thing I have always hated about myself. I am usually extremely vibrant, but other times I can be a total drama queen. Rose on the other hand has to be the strongest, most positive person I have ever met. She believes that her future is in her hands. So, everyday she would wake up making sure she is on the right side of the bed. With a smile on her face, doing everything possible to have the best day she could. Olivia has always been extremely religious. Like Rose, she has had her struggles in life too. In school she got picked on because she “wasn’t right”. She surely wasn’t like most kids. All of her school career she knew that she didn’t like guys she liked girls. She is a lesbian. At first Olivia didn’t know what was going on. She didn’t know why she wasn’t feeling the same way all of her friends felt. When rumors started spreading around school that she was a lesbian, Olivia started cutting herself. She was depressed and didn’t know what to do. That was until Nikki came around. Nikki was new at school and right from the spot everyone knew something was up with her. She didn’t fit in and in the end Olivia and Nikki just kind of matched. Nikki was also a lesbian and knew what Olivia was going through. Nikki helped Olivia survive high school by realizing that she wasn’t the one that needed to be changed, the people who make fun of her needed to change.
After high school adjusting to the real world with one, special quality, was a struggle, also. Olivia soon adjusted to her new life as a florist and society started to realize how big of a deal being a lesbian really is. It is not a big deal at all, but if you try to make it one that is when there becomes problems. Christ has always been a big part in Olivia’s life, but ever since her high school years He has been an even bigger part. Olivia always tells Rose that things will change; things will get better. That God won’t let you suffer. He wants people to be happy right and if people do suffer a point in their lives it is because it is one of God’s plans. That was the one thing Rose was thinking about when she and Declan were seated in the waiting room at Wright State Hospital waiting for the news of a life time.
Still, when I look back on everything Declan has told me, I still get shivers down my spin. In the end Olivia was wrong about God not letting Rose suffer. This might all have been in his big book under Rose’s name, but then again this would be cruel, even for God.
On May 7, 1977 the fevers started. Rose hadn’t been feeling well lately, but felt it was nothing. Declan had just found a new, more stable job and anything to make him worry anymore than he already did was the last thing on Rose’s to-do list. The symptoms she had been having were little and inconsequential. She thought it was nothing. May 7, Rose got her first fever. She ended up making it through the day at school, but when she got to the flower shop she started feeling worse and said something to Olivia about it. Once Olivia felt Rose’s head she instantly felt a fever. Olivia pulled out some over the counter medicine and gave it to Rose. Olivia then asked Rose if she was feeling ok and that was Rose’s first lie about not feeling well, but it wouldn’t be her last. Rose told Olivia that she was fine. That it was probably just a cold or something. Olivia believed her and within an hour Rose’s fever was gone, just like it never happened. Although it did happen and two days later the same fever returned. Rose was afraid to tell anyone, so she suffered through the week. She thought that some sleep and rest would do the trick. When the weekend came to an end and she still wasn’t feeling any better she became worried. Rose absolutely didn’t need anything else to make her worry or her father. The fever lasted throughout the weekend and most days Rose would take some medicine and it would go away. By Monday the fever that keep her down throughout the weekend was still standing strong. Rose didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know what was wrong with her. All she could do was ask God to just make it go away. With the rent almost due and her father already struggling at his new job she didn’t need anything else. By Wednesday Rose was fed up feeling as she was. She had thought that maybe if she could just scrounge up enough money to go see a doctor without her father, then she would know what was going on with her body and could fix it. Not having anyone to turn to in this situation, she turned to Olivia. She knew she could comfy in her, but then again she is a grown up and for some reason grown ups feel as though they have to go telling parents every little thing a child does. Rose sat down and talked to Olivia about how she had been feeling. Olivia immediately told Rose that she needs to go see a doctor. Whether it is just a common cold or if it was something worse like a brain tumor, Rose needed to go and have it checked out. At the word brain tumor Rose reacted. She had never thought it would be something so serious or serious at all. I mean people get sick all the time, right? Flu, cold, phenomena, all things common people get at least once a year and Rose hadn’t been sick much that year, so she thought that maybe it was her turn to get her yearly sickness just like everyone else. Rose didn’t want to get her dad involved in this, but needed a parent to sign the legal papers at the doctors office. Seeing as though money has always been tight, Rose and Declan don’t always make yearly visits to the doctors office. Declan feels there is no need to. I mean if someone were to be dying, of course they would go to the hospital, but cases like that were serious, unlike the common cold that you can take some cold medicine and be good in twenty-four hours. Rose told her father that she needed to be taken to the doctor because she wasn’t feeling well. Declan then got mad and interrogating towards Rose, but in the end after Rose told him she thought it was necessary, he took her. Declan took Rose to the local doctors office on Thursday. Rose then met with the doctor and proceed to explain to him what was going on. Once he was finished he said some big words that Rose didn’t quite understand; neither did Declan. After that he sent Rose straight to the local hospital to have further tests done. Rose didn’t know what was going on. She had no clue why the doctor couldn’t have been straight up with her and tell her what he thought was wrong. Instead he had to say that he wasn’t sure and didn’t want to say anything until more tests were done. Him saying that didn’t exactly make Rose any more comfortable about what was wrong with her; it only scared her more. On their way to the hospital Rose knew something was wrong. She could just feel it the whole car ride there.
Once Rose and Declan got to the hospital a nurse was waiting for them. She took them back to do tests that ended up taking the rest of the day and into the night. By ten they were finished and the nurse said that she would call them when the results came in. That night seemed like forever to Rose much longer than it actually was. The next morning Rose didn’t go to school. She hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before and wasn’t feeling so great either. Around noon the call came in. Declan received it at work and immediately came home. The doctor from the hospital wanted Rose to come right in for even more tests. By then both Rose and Declan were tired and worried. Being at the doctors all day yesterday and if things were going to be like yesterday, all day today, to say the least it didn’t float Declan’s boat. He knew it was best, though and that the doctors knew what they were doing. At three Rose and Declan were waiting in the already familiar waiting room, waiting on the results. Dr. Reed was the doctor that Rose had while in the hospital. Dr. Reed told Declan that the tests would only take a half an hour or so to develop and after that they can discuss the results.
A half an hour later Dr. Reed called Declan and Rose back to his office. He said that when she first came in, the doctor that checked her out at her local pediatrician had called saying that her symptoms were ones not needed to be looked further by himself, but by a specialist. Dr. Reed said that the first thing he noticed when he ran Rose’s tests was how abnormal her white blood cells were, which could only lead to a hand full of things. One being leukemia. The others weren’t too far from being as scary as that, either. In the end the leukemia test came up as positive. Rose indeed had leukemia.
At first Rose didn’t know what to do or what to say. No one was ready to hear that. Although I doubt anyone really would be ready to hear that they have leukemia. Rose didn’t even really know what leukemia was. It wasn’t a very common thing back then and no one Rose knew had leukemia, or even cancer. Dr. Reed explained that leukemia is a cancer in your white blood cells. There are four kinds of leukemia: Acute Lymphocytic leukemia, Acute Myelogenous leukemia, Chronic lymphocytic leukemia , and Chronic Myelogenous leukemia. Rose had Acute Lymphocytic leukemia.
It is now present day, which is 1979; May to be exact. Two years after Rose got diagnosed with leukemia. This is the part of the story that I am suppose to take my time with and build up the courage to write the words no one would ever want to write. I am suppose to go off into space and write about how good she was doing. I can’t do that though. No, it wouldn’t be a lie, but then again going, rambling on about Rose and the leukemia is too much; at least right now. What story would be a story without a tragic end? Yes, I could write a happy story about Rose and her battle against life, but most definitely then I would be lying. Rose lived seventeen bad years. When people die, people are suppose to say that they lived 17 good years, but with Rose it is a little different. Life is not easy and fighting the big battle is not easy without a sword. Yes, in the end the leukemia took over and fell along with it. In the beginning things were going ok, as I am told. She was getting treatments in the hospital at least once a week and the cancer was contained for a few months. Then the infections started rolling in uncontrollably. Her blood counts keep dropping and wouldn’t be lifted up. She fought hard through infection and infection, but soon her body weakened. Dr. Reed said that when she had come to him, Rose had already had the leukemia for weeks. It had already progressed so much in that short of time. There wasn’t much Dr. Reed could do after the leukemia had gotten to a certain point.
It wasn’t just hard on Rose; it was hard on Declan too. Suffering through work when all he wanted was to be with Rose, trying to stay away from the temptations, and having to pay two big bills every month, had to be hard work! He had to pay both the rent and the hospital bills every month and it seemed like every month went by, he was in debt even more. Rose was in the hospital for two months until she was finally free to go home and finish treatments there. She was able to stay home and out of the hospital for almost a year until things started getting bad. She had to be signed back in the hospital on November 8, 1978 because of an infection and ended up not leaving until Rose made the hardest decision of her life and decided to make them stop treating her. She knew it wasn’t going to work or at least it didn’t seem like it. As everyday passed she felt more and more dead, but she wasn’t dead yet. She knew that it was only a matter of time before Dr. Reed said he could do nothing more, so she decided it would be in her best interest if she just stop the treatments and let the leukemia take it’s toll. Of course no one was happy about that. In many minds it was like she was trying to kill herself, but she knew that what ever was meant to be will be and she had a feeling God was telling her what he wanted her to do.
After Rose got diagnosed she started going to church as much as she could. Having leukemia made it hard to get to church every Sunday, but whenever she could she did. She started a new relationship with God and knew that whatever was meant to be will be. She just had to believe in God and trust him. When she asked for all of her treatments to be stopped she had a feeling that is what God wanted and was going to believe him and trust him.
After Rose made her decision in February to stop the treatments she was released from the hospital and could go home. In the end her only wish was to die at home, in the comfort of her own house. Everyone knew what was going to happen in the end, but everyone had their hopes up until the very end; even if Rose wasn’t getting better, only worse.
Rose died on April 3, 1979, when she was seventeen years old. She died in the comfort of her own home with her friends and her family; most of her family. She died just the way she wanted to. I didn’t know Rose that well until she died. That was my loss; my big loss. My name is Heather Roberts and I am one of the biggest reasons Rose had such a terrible life. My therapist said that I should start writing my feelings in this diary, but the problem is, I don’t really know my feelings. I know that leaving Declan and Rose was a mistake the minute I got out of the car in Atlanta, but it wasn’t like I could just go and turn around and go home. I left my parents once and both Declan and I struggled just as much as Declan did without me. I knew that I needed to start over and get into a good school, so I can get a good job, but I couldn’t knock off the empty feeling I got every time I saw a family. Sadly, families are all over the place. You can’t go a block without seeing a mommy and a daddy with their little baby. Leaving Rose was the hardest thing I have ever done and I am not proud of it. I could have had a lot more than I do now. Yes, I have a good job that pays the bills, but love like Declan’s never came again. No one could ever replace Declan and Rose in my heart. I had been thinking about moving back to Cincinnati for a long time, but worried that if I got there I would feel lost and confused. That Declan wouldn’t want me back and Rose wouldn’t even know who I was. I can’t blame Declan if he didn’t want me back. I wouldn’t want me back if I was in his position, but I definitely wanted to see my little girl. Even though in Declan’s head I probably look like a heartless woman that only cares about herself, but I am not. I am not a robot that can live life knowing I had a daughter and a boyfriend that both loved me and I was selfish and left all of that. I will admit that I am selfish. Let me rephrase that, I was selfish. I most definitely learned my lesson and I will never be so stupid again. The day that I got the call from Declan about Rose’s death I was on my way back to Cincinnati. I knew in my heart that was the right decision and I severely needed to stop listening to my parents and start listening to my heart. In the end I was too late. All of these years Declan keep my number and all of these years he didn’t call once. Not even when Rose got sick! Hearing that Rose had died tore my heart to pieces. I never got to meet my daughter and that will forever haunt me.
Rose’s death not only took a toll on my life, but on Declan’s too. He hasn’t been the same since. Although it has only been almost a month since she died you can already tell how Declan will never be the same again. Rose really was the one person that saved Declan’s life. His life was headed for disaster and Rose made him open his eyes and see what future he could have if he tried. Rose is an inspiration to all. She has courage and zeal, like no one else I could ever know. What Declan says about his little angel is remarkable. She, in my opinion, has had enough struggles in her life to last her forever. She never gave up, through. Rose had to grow up far sooner than any of her class mates. She had to get a job at age ten plus maintain at least a B average in school. Living with a father that is drunk half the time and when he is not drunk he is on some kind of drug. Declan is not a stable person and Rose always was his rock that keep him from making even more mistakes than he already had.
Rose teaches me that life isn’t easy and it never will be, but you have to roll with life’s punches and man up. You can’t let life take you down; you have to take life down. All throughout Rose’s life she never once said that she had a bad life. She never once got mad about where she was and with who she was. She wasn’t bitter like most people would be. Rose is a fighter and even though she is dead her sole will live on forever in my heart. I know that I haven’t always been there for her and that was my mistake. Her life could have been totally and completely different if I were around, but then again Rose turned out to be everything that I wanted her to be; kind, loving, strong, a fighter. I will never be able to go back and relive my decision ;relive being a part of Rose’s life, but I will treasure her memory forever.
God is looking down on all of us right now. He doesn’t want our lives to be bad. No, he wants them to be good, but if everyone got everything that they wanted then people would grow up being selfish and rotten. God doesn’t want that. He wants people to live life trying to be the best person they can. No one is perfect and surely Declan is not. People make mistakes that is life, but you have to be the bigger person, like Rose, and take those mistakes and make them work. Getting mad and giving up won’t help anything and Rose knew that.
This is my message to you. I know who I am not. I am a mistake. Everyone is a mistake. Everyone will make mistakes because no one is perfect, but it is the mistakes that happen in life, that make you who you are. Rose had to overcome some difficult odds and surely some will say the odds weren’t in her favor. She didn’t listen to them she keep positive and only looked at the things she did have. She had a father that loved her, a friend who was true, a home, food on the table, and love for this world. Other people’s lists of what they have can be longer, but there are people out there where their list is shorter. People can learn from Rose. You just have to try. So, I urge anyone who has ever made a mistake or who knows someone that has made a mistake in their lives, to accept that they are human and stop looking at the bad about it and look at the good. When I left it was a mistake I made, but would Rose have turned out the way she did if I had stayed? That is something I may never know and I don’t want to. No one is perfect so embrace it!
After I just got done going on and on about how Rose really did change my life for the better I am thinking you may want to know how the story ends. Well the story ends like this, even though Rose is gone her memory lives in both Declan and myself. After Rose’s funeral I decided it was time to move back home, whether my parents felt it was right or not. I was unhappy in Atlanta and I knew I needed to come back. Slowly, but surely Declan and I reconnected. We both learned a lot from Rose. Even though it took some time Declan forgave me for making the worse decision of my life. Never again will I turn away from who I am. I got a job at Olivia’s flower shop and Declan is going back to school to be a professor. It is going to take a while, but he knows his calling now. Just recently we have started to listen to God’s message. God had a plan for Rose and her dying was part of the plan. We both decided her story needs to be heard, so we took some money and started a charity for the homeless. In our spare time we go around and do fundraisers to help raise money for the people in need. Our message to them is to never give up and to always think about the positive. Even if it feels like you are lower than low always remember that there is always hope. God has a plan for everyone, you just have to listen to understand. Both Declan and I want to make a difference in this world because we know that there needs to be a difference. People are getting more and more selfish as the years go by. Spreading Rose’s story to the world, I feel would make people understand how lucky they really are. A lot of people are blessed and don’t even know it. You know the saying you don’t know what you have until it is gone, well that comes into play with this. You don’t know how blessed you really are until you aren’t anymore. Don’t wait until your life become unblessed for you to realize all that you have because I know right now you are blessed and if you are not don’t worry because God knows what will come out of your life even if you do not.
Even though I love and miss Rose I will continue to spread her word around to people that feel hopeless, in hopes that Rose’s story can help save a life.
That is the first chapter of my book. I haven’t decided on a name yet, but it will come to me with some time. I hope you like it because I do so far. If you don’t that is alright I guess. At least you read it. I still will like it and isn’t that all that matters? I hope you do take the time to read it because I have a feeling you will like it. I am just so excited to see how everything turns out in the end because I think it could be something special. I hope you take the time and read it and write back on what you think about it. I know most likely there will be some mistakes and everything wont be perfect, but it is as good as it is going to get for the moment. I hope you like it!
Hugs and Kisses,
Jezzabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Dear mom and dad,
Can you believe that it is already June! Summer once again. I have a feeling this summer is going to be filled with work, doctors appointments, more work, treatments, and even more work! Ever since I came up with the idea to write a book, too much of my attention is focused on the book and not on anything else. Which is good that I am so in love with my book, but it is bad because I have many other things to worry about too. Like school and my leukemia. Two things that should always go before my writing, but do you have any idea how hard it is to focus on all of the things you don’t want to be doing when you could be focusing on the things you do want to do? It is very frustrating, honestly.
Last month I put the first chapter of my book into my letter for you to read. I haven’t gotten a reply yet; which honestly I doubted I would. You have spent all this time ignoring, or what ever you are doing with my letters, why should I have thought that you would just happen to open that one and read it and even on top of that actually write back! I must have been crazy to get my hopes up; which they were. That’s the kind of person I am though. I am not a very realistic person. My imagination has to be the biggest around. Even when I know something is definitely not going to happen I still get my hopes up because in my opinion it is better to get your hopes up and have fun imagining things, than to be realistic. The bad part is when I do get my hopes up and whatever I wanted to happen doesn’t happen, then my hopes get crushed to the ground and broke into a million different pieces. I know I should probably stop doing that, but I can’t and I don’t know why, especially when I know it is best for me. Anyways I knew that you most likely wouldn’t read my letter and that you most likely would write back even if you did read it. It is ok though. It is just another learning experience for me. Just another memory for me to look back on the next time I want to get my hopes up. Maybe then I will realize that nothing good ever happens when I do and that I should probably stop. Then again I haven’t been able to do that yet, so what will give me the straight to do it the next time?
Also in my last letter I mentioned how excited I am for my birthday. I am usually never, I mean NEVER this excited for my birthday, so why am I this year? I am not sure to tell you the truth. Like I said in my last letter it might have something to do with the fact that as another year goes by, the farther along I am with my leukemia. Just like I am getting older my cancer is slowly going away. It is definitely something to look forward to, but for some reason I don’t think that I am this excited for that. For some reason I just have this big feeling that something great is going to happen on my birthday. The feeling isn’t good because didn’t I just get done telling you how getting my hopes up are a bad thing and I shouldn’t do it anymore. Well, if I keep thinking that something great is going to happen on my birthday then I am going to get my hopes up that something is really going to happen. When in reality it is just a feeling and it could be anything. Getting my hopes up and nothing great or spectacular happens, then it will make my birthday look like nothing and I will get sad and depressed just like I was when it finally kicked in that you weren’t going to send me anything back. I just told myself not to get my hopes up again, but once again I can’t help it and watch, next month when I write to you I will tell you how nothing happened and the only thing that came out of me getting my hopes up was this rotten feeling I got after. I would say I told you so, Jezzabelle, but no I don’t listen.
Last month I didn’t have time to tell you about my play date with Ashlee. I was so busy showing you my story that you didn’t read. Well I am very happy to say that everything went great! Ever since we met at the Rehabilitation Center I haven’t seen her back. She must make her appointments at different times than I do and that one time was just a fluke. It was a good fluke, though. I know I may not always get along with all of my friends all the time, Sasha to be exact, but they are still good friends. They just don’t always understand and trust me no one would understand unless they really had to live cancer. It is just one of those things you can’t imagine; which makes being told you have cancer ten times harder. Of course no one would ever want cancer, but when you do have cancer, it can be a little rough at times and with people constantly saying that they understand when they clearly don’t have a clue, gets irritating. That is why Ashlee and I bonded so easily. She understands what I am going through because she is going through the same thing. It is just so much easier to talk to her about all of my worries than anyone else because I know that she most likely has the same worries. Since she is only still on the first stage of chemo I can give her helpful advice and calm her down for what she will be going through with the second stage. We kind of equal each other out. She is there for me to talk to and vent and I am here to give helpful advice and explanations about what the future holds for her since I have already gone through it. None of my friends from school could ever give me any of that.
While Ashlee and I played Aunt Marci and Ashlee’s mom, Kelly got to talking. When the play date was over Aunt Marci shared some of the things they talked about. Aunt Marci said that just like I have had my struggles in life, Ashlee has had hers, too. Ashlee was born pre-mature, which means she was born months before she was ready to come out. All babies that are born pre-mature are very likely to have many medical problems. Kelly said that it was like every year that went by there seemed to be another diagnoses of another one of her many problems. Ashlee is a diabetic, has asthma, has problems hearing and seeing, and she has had ten broken bones in her whole life. Her bones aren’t as strong as most kids her age, so the slightest force could break one of her bones. When she started having weird symptoms her mother hadn’t thought anything of it. She thought that it was probably one of her many health problems acting up and if it wasn’t one of them it could be all of them. Kelly hadn’t thought in a million years that Ashlee would have leukemia. Ashlee could have all the health problems in the world, but none that would ever top this. Kelly said that the doctors weren’t surprised when the test results came back positive. Being born pre-mature and having leukemia don’t coincide. Being pre-mature and having leukemia was just a coincidence. It is not something that a lot of pre-mature babies have and if they do, then it wasn’t from being pre-mature.
Sadly, being born pre-mature was just the start of their family struggle. Kelly’s husband, Ashlee’s father hasn’t always been the best father in the world. It wasn’t like he did that many cruel things to Ashlee and Kelly. No, just one. Really the thing that made him the father that he is, was that he never was home. He worked from seven in the morning until six at night. Which means that he would get home at seven every night. Since he worked so late and it took him so long to get home the family hardly ever ate dinner together. Ashlee had her dance classes every Tuesday and Thursday nights and Kelly taught an aerobics class at the YMCA. Most of the time throughout the week it didn’t even seem Kelly and her husband were married. It looked as if they just lived in the same house together. On the weekends it wasn’t much different. Trevor, Ashlee’s dad, worked on Saturdays until noon and after that he would go off running around playing golf or fishing with his buddies. Saturday nights he would come home around six and everyone would eat dinner together. After that he would disappear into his study or down in the basement. Sundays Trevor would be home most of the day, but that was only because Kelly had to go into work for a couple of hours. Kelly said as a family they never really did anything together. Ashlee and herself would do stuff all the time. Ashlee has always been a mama’s girl and honestly Kelly thinks that is because her father was never around.
When Ashlee got diagnosed with leukemia it was an incredibly hard time for everyone. Chaos sprung just like it had with my family and Ashlee’s father started coming home later and later every night. That is not what was needed though and he knew it. While Ashlee was undergoing the first stage of chemo, Kelly would say all the time that she was glad they didn’t have any other kids because with hardly no help from Trevor, Kelly practically lived at the hospital with Ashlee. It got to the point where Kelly had to ask her boss if she could go off on leave for a couple of months until Ashlee was feeling better. Her office said that would be fine, but until she came back they would hire another person to work her shift and Kelly wouldn’t be getting paid. Thankfully Trevor’s salary would be able to do it for a couple of months until Ashlee was set free from the hospital. One night Kelly just lost it. Ashlee had been feeling extremely down and out of it lately and Kelly couldn’t stand to see her daughter like that, but there was nothing she could do. One big, meaningless fight turned into a world of hurt for both Kelly and Ashlee. After Kelly went off on Trevor for never being there for her or Ashlee, especially at a time like this, Trevor packed up his bags and left. Kelly was confused. Trevor and her had fights before; many fights before, but none where he would just pack up everything and leave. When she thought she would never hear from him again she got a note in the mail. It was the divorce papers Trevor had filled out. It only needed her signature and the courts approval to be final. She signed the papers unwillingly and hid back her tears as she proceeded with the long struggle for Ashlee’s life. Without a job things got bad. Trevor knew how bad things were getting between the two of them and somewhere deep inside he really did care about the two of them. Just not enough to stay. He would send money and checks now and then, but that wasn’t enough. Thankfully, Ashlee was let loose from the hospital just in time and Kelly could start working again. Being a single mother is hard on Kelly. It is hard on everyone, but being a single mother with a daughter with leukemia is extremely hard. Aunt Marci said that at the end of there conversation she wanted to go call Uncle Jeff and tell him what a good job and good man he is for doing what he is doing. I think we can all learn something from Ashlee and Kelly. I have a feeling that we are going to be good friends by the time both of us are cancer free.
In the past couple of weeks things have spiraled out of control with our family fast! One minute everything is all fine. I am feeling better and being productive with my life. Aunt Marci is back home again, so she can have an easier time taking care of all these children since Uncle Jeff is gone. Uncle Jeff is finally getting into a routine where he is coming home every weekend to see us. Claude is working more since I am getting better and can be on my own more. Everything seemed to be going pretty well, until one incident shattered it all. Three weeks ago I was in school taking a brutal math test. You know how middle school kids and high school kids have to take exams. Well, we have to take Ohio Achievement tests that is suppose to show your teacher how much you have learned from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Since school is almost over and summer break is around the corner we took them then. I was right in the middle of mine when I got called down to the office. At first I thought Aunt Marci was picking me up for a doctors appointment or something since she does that a lot. That was until I realized that I had just gone yesterday and I wasn’t scheduled to go again until Friday. Once I got to the office the secretary said that Aunt Marci was on the phone wanting to speak to me and that it was urgent. I was sure she just wanted to check on me. She usually calls the school sometime during the day and just has someone check on me to make sure I am ok, especially after I had just gotten back from a doctors appointment. When I picked up the phone Aunt Marci was frantic. Her voice was very loud, shaky, and distant. I asked her what was wrong and then the news hit. News just as bad as finding out your adopted daughter has leukemia. Claude had been in a car accident. Aunt Marci had gotten the call ten minutes ago from the medical team in the ambulance. He had been coming home from work on Route 34 when a truck swerved out of control and ran into him. The hit of the cars force knocked him into a ditch on the side of the road. His car had flipped once all the way around, but remained upside right. Aunt Marci said thankfully he had his seat belt on. When the ambulance and police got to his car he was unconscious. He was bleeding from his head and leg. The medical team in the ambulance couldn’t tell Aunt Marci how bad he was hurt. Honestly she didn’t even think they had known. He was still alive though, thankfully!
Before I could get anymore questions out Aunt Marci said that she had to get off the phone. She was on her way to the hospital. I asked when she was going to pick me up and she told me that Tracy would be there to get me at three-thirty, just like any other day except it is Tracy who is picking me up instead of her. I told Aunt Marci that I had to come with her. I couldn’t leave Claude there by himself. He had been there for me when I was hurt and I must be there for him now that he is hurt. I couldn’t just ignore the fact that my brother is in the hospital maybe on his death bed and I have to go back upstairs and try to stay focused on my math test. Before I could say any of that the line went blank. I stood there frozen for it seemed like eternity, but it was only a couple of minutes before I slowly put the phone back on the hook and started to make my way back to my class room. I hadn’t noticed my knees start to buckle down until I was sitting on the floor. One of the ladies from the office came to help me up and ask me if I was alright. I told her I was alright and slowly walked back to class.
When I got back to the class room instead of trying to finish my test I started at the wall for the rest of the day, unable to do anything but blink and breath. I hadn’t even noticed that the bell rang until one of my friends came over and asked if I was alright. When I walked out of the school I could see Tracy in the car waiting for me. We didn’t say a work until I realized that she wasn’t planning on going to the hospital she was planning on going home. I asked her where she was going and she said that Aunt Marci told her to take me home. After some productive arguing and making some good points I finally got Tracy to turn the car around and take me to the hospital. I got her to do this only if I was to tell Aunt Marci that I had forcefully made her come here and it wasn’t Tracy’s idea, it was mine. Of course when we got to the hospital Aunt Marci was furious that we hadn’t done what she told us to do, but after I calmed her down she let me go in and see him. You would think that after being stuck in a hospital for months and months you would get use to seeing all of the wires and tubes hooked up to people, but seeing it on your brother is a whole other story. When both Tracy and I walked into the room I could see many other machines hooked up to Claude than Dr. Reed had hooked up to me. A screen measuring his heart beat beeped every five seconds, along with the gentle hum of machines working was the only thing you could hear. Claude had white bandage wrapped around his head and his neck was in a neck brace. His covers were up to his chest, so you couldn’t see any other damage below them, but his arms were on top of the covers covered in bruises and bandages. An IV cord was coming from his arm and the heart beat device was on his left, pointer finger. He was unconscious still.
Once everything got absorbed into my brain Aunt Marci entered the room along with a nurse. Aunt Marci waited until the nurse left to begin talking. The nurse went over to the bed and checked something then walked back out. Once she was gone Aunt Marci began going through everything that Claude had suffered from. She told us that the doctor said that he had to put five stitches in his head where he cut it open, his right leg got broken in half, his right foot got crushed, three of his ribs were broken, his neck was fractured, and he was in a coma. The doctor also mentioned that his memory might not come back all the way or as strong as it was at first, but with some time it should be as good as new. Although everything else is a whole other story. Tomorrow he is getting surgery for his leg, but he is going to have to wait to go see a specialist about his foot since almost every bone in it is shattered. His neck will heal with some rest, so will his ribs. Ribs are one part of the body that you can’t really do much to if they are broken. It just takes time for them to heal back together. Lastly he should wake up from his coma in a couple of days or so. Aunt Marci said that the doctor said that Claude was lucky. Much worse things could of happened.
Now, three weeks later, Claude is doing a lot better. He has been getting visitors like crazy. Both Uncle Jeff and Allison came rushing up here to make sure he was ok. Thankfully, Allison didn’t have a problem going back this time. Uncle Jeff took a couple of days off work and gave Aunt Marci a break at the hospital. Claude woke up from his coma last week. A week later than Dr. Thomas said he would, but it is better than never waking up at all! Of course everyone had loads of questions to ask him when he woke up, but there was just one he asked. Where he was. After a minute or two of looking around he soon realized that he was in a hospital, but he didn’t know why until he tried to sit up. It only took him a couple of seconds to realize that he was hurt, bad. Dr. Thomas told us that we were not allowed to talk to him until he did. Just to see how much he really does remember. It turns out Claude remembers nothing of his accident, so it would be totally useless to ask him about it. He also is having some memory lose, but that should go away in a couple of weeks as things start to go back to normal.
He isn’t allowed out of the hospital yet, but in the next week or so he should be able to. He will still be bed ridden for at least another month because his ribs aren’t anywhere close to being healed. Plus until he goes and sees a foot specialist and they say he can walk, he is not allowed to walk. His leg is in a cast and is healing also, along with his neck. Everything really is just going to take some time to heal back to normal.
I haven’t really gotten to talk to him yet. No one has really. Between all of the nurses coming in asking him if he needs anything every five minutes and Dr. Thomas surprisingly stopping in every hour; which by now isn’t a surprise anymore. Honestly all that Claude really does is lays there looking confused and when he is not awake he is sleeping for hours and hours. I think both Aunt Marci and myself is thinking that Dr. Thomas was wrong about only having some of his memory lost. I think we are both getting scared that he has no clue who any of us are. Right now I really don’t feel like talking about the what if’s. I am just glad he is alive and out of his coma! I can only hope that I get a chance to talk to him soon and make sure that he is really ok.
Keep Claude in your prayers!
Jezzabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
July 12, 1991
Dear mom and dad,
It is July and school is out for summer break and it couldn’t have come to soon! You would think that being a kid you would have a lot to worry and stress about, but you do. That is the one thing parents don’t understand. They are always complaining about how they are always stressed, but never take a second to think that their kids would be stressed also. Us kids, we do have a lot to be stressed about! First and foremost our social life. Every girl wants to be the prom queen and every guy wants to be the prom king and to be prom king and queen you have to be popular. Everyone has that little desire to be popular; even if it is just a little tiny bit. Kids, even eleven year olds, want to be popular and have a striving social life. Second, kids have to worry about school. School to kids is like being locked up three hundred sixty days a year in a jail. The only plus is that they are learning while they are locked up, but nowadays who cares about learning? For the kids who do care about learning and want to get a good grade they have to worry about maintaining their average, whatever that may be. Thirdly, crushes. Thank goodness I am not exactly at that stage of life yet, but I have a feeling it is around the corner. Now that I am eleven boys are going to start looking more attractive, rather than disgusting. Some people in my grade are already picking out which guy they think is hot. Fourthly, hobbies. Almost all kids have hobbies. They don’t just sit around all day and do nothing. Whether it is soccer or just reading a book. If you don’t have a hobby it can make you feel lost. Like you don’t know who you are or what you want to do. Most kids use their hobbies as stepping stones for their future. When they are young they might think just because you are a good soccer player, you are going to become a professional soccer player when you get older. In some cases that may be true. Like reading for instance. If you love to read and it is your hobby, you might become a librarian when you get older. Kids seeing other kids dreams of being some crazy out of this world job can be a rather rude awakening for someone who doesn’t really have a hobby.
All of these things are very stressful things to worry about. Although I not necessarily had all of those things to worry about, I definitely had a lot more to worry about! Just having a few months to enjoy doing anything I want to do is something I most definitely need.
Last month was my birthday and like I have said in the past couple of letters I was oddly anticipating it. Ever since my last birthday went so well, I have shed a new light on this whole birthday thing. I realized that it only comes once and year and your aging should be something to celebrate, not frown upon; just yet, anyways. Getting my hopes up and then crushed seems to be my thing since I tend to do it enough. This birthday I had this weird feeling that something amazing was going to happen and in a way it did.
I wanted my birthday to be exactly like it was last year; with no pressure. Sadly, due to Claude’s accident things didn’t go as well as I would have hoped. With Claude still in the hospital and Uncle Jeff away we just really didn’t have time for a party. I relaxed and tried to understand. Since Claude was in the hospital we didn’t have a party. Although I did get a cake and we all had dinner that night at the hospital with Claude. Aunt Marci had been so busy that she didn’t have time to go out and pick me out a present, but she said she will as soon as things calm down. Since Uncle Jeff had just came down to see Claude he wasn’t able to come down for my birthday either, so he said that his present would have to wait too. In the end Claude was the only one who actually had a present to give me, well kind of. You might be wondering about now why I said this birthday was kind of amazing. I had no party, everyone forgot my present, and Uncle Jeff couldn’t make it. So, you are probably thinking that it was Claude’s present that turned it all around, and it was. I know that presents aren’t everything, but right about then I needed something to pick me up from the ground and Claude knew it too. He said he wanted to give it to me when he was finally allowed to come home, but since everything else was kind of falling apart he thought then would be the perfect time. Claude pulled this little itty bitty box from his pocket and gave it to me. I was thinking it had to be a ring or some sort of jewelry since it was in that little of a box, but it wasn’t. It was a piece of paper. Before I read what it said I looked up at Claude and he told me to read it. It was a receipt from the Rayland Hotel in Times Square. I looked up confused. It said that one room was booked from March 20 to March 25. Claude then explained to me that he was reading in a magazine a couple of months ago that said one of his favorite authors was coming to New York, Thomas Pynchon. Thomas was going to do a book signing in Times Square and Claude thought that I might like to meet a real author. I understood that I haven’t read any of Thomas Pynchon’s work, but maybe later in my life I might just actually get interested in it. He thought that I might be able to ask him some questions about being an author. I thought it was an amazing idea, but sadly I would have to wait until next spring, when Claude gets a week off from school. I can wait though. It will be something to look forward to. I have heard of his work before and he seems to be quite the writer, so I am looking forward to meeting him!
The main thing that is on everyone’s mind right now is Claude. Lately he has been doing some hard thinking about his future. He knows he has to make a decision, soon, and who is the best person to help him with that? Allison, of course. She made it through her freshman year of college and came home last month for her summer vacation. After she came down to see Claude and make sure he was alright she had to go back up to New York and take her final exams. Once she was done she came back to Cincinnati. I would think since Claude helped her out when she needed it, she could help him out now that he needs it. His plan ever since he said he was going to stay here was that he would head off to college next fall when I got better. Well I am as good as I am going to get for a while and fall is around the corner, so he should be packing. Sadly, he can barely move let alone pack. Ever since Claude’s accident, things have been hectic, extremely hectic! It is just like back when I was in the hospital all the time. Aunt Marci has been busier than ever taking care of both Claude and I. He got released from the hospital June eighth. Right when Dr. Thomas predicted he could. Although just like when I came home from the hospital, the first few weeks seem worse than when you were in the hospital; especially to Aunt Marci. She has been running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off ever since he came home. She is constantly going back and forth from Claude’s room to the kitchen. Now, more than ever, Tracy is needed constantly. Since Claude use to do all of the baby sitting and caring for everyone until Aunt Marci got home from work, Tracy has had to step up and take over. Although I will say she is a little better cook than Claude is, she just makes us feel as if she were working at the speed of light so she can be finished and go do her thing. I mean she is a teenager and she wants to be able to do her thing. She has her responsibilities too. She is not a bad baby sitter or anything, she just forgets a lot. A lot of important things, like my medicine. Which, I mean if you had fifty different things on your mind you would surely forget at least one of them.
When Claude got released from the hospital, Dr. Thomas went over a list of things Claude would need over the next month or so. Since he has a fractured neck, broken leg, and crushed foot, he wont be able to do anything that really requires him to get out of bed. Other than go to the bathroom; which is a given. Dr. Thomas said that he needs to stay in bed until he says he can start walking with the crutches. Claude has to go back to see Dr. Thomas four times a month just as a check up. He told Aunt Marci that it would be best if she put him in a room closest to the bathroom. Since, ironically, his room is farthest to the bathroom and ever since I have been getting chemo done mine is closest, he has been in my room. Which I am ok with. Everyone has made so many adjustments for me when I needed them, I thought that I needed to start making some too. So, I have been sleeping in Claude’s room while he sleeps in mine; or rather I should say stay since he barely leaves my room. Dr. Thomas also said that Claude needs something he can use to get our attention when he needs it. Since he is not allowed out of bed, everything that he needs has to be brought to him.
Two of Claude’s many visitors were Grandma and Grandpa Pense. They came up to see him and decided they didn’t want to leave; or rather they couldn’t leave. So much has happened in the past year. So many tragic things. With me getting leukemia and Claude’s accident. With Uncle Jeff being away all of the time and Aunt Marci having a job, things are incredibly hectic. Things were going a little bit smoother once I started going to school again, but now that Claude had his accident and he needs someone to be with him twenty-four-seven, things have gotten bad once again. Since everyone in the house now goes to school and the twins have daycare, no one is home throughout the day to take care of Claude. Grandma and Grandpa said that for awhile now they have been thinking about coming up and renting something close to our house. They said that it is very clear that we need some help; especially with Uncle Jeff being gone. So, they packed up their things and surprised us with renting an apartment two blocks away from the house. They said that they would be here as long as we still need them, which is great because we really do need some help. Now that they are here they have been coming and staying with Claude and us until Aunt Marci gets home at night. They are happy to take care of us and Aunt Marci says everyday how lucky she is to have them.
Even though Aunt Marci tells them everyday how thankful she is to have them here, she does understand that they have a home too and it is not here. I mean if they wanted to move down here as their choice she would be happy and excited for them, but seeing as though they have a life in New York, they can not stay down here forever. They say all the time that it is no big deal and we would do the same if they needed help, but for Aunt Marci that is not enough. She knows they don’t mind taking care of us while she is off at work. It is not like she is off on some run away vacation or anything. She is at her job trying to make money. They have been here for over a month now and Aunt Marci is looking every which way to try to find a way out. She loves them being here, but feels she is asking too much of them. Soon everything will go back to normal again, though. Claude is healing more and more everyday and before you know it everything will be ok.
All in all Claude is in no condition to go away in August. He went to the foot specialist two weeks ago and is having surgery on it Thursday. His leg and neck will heal in a month or so and his memory is already back to normal. Plus Claude doesn’t even know if New York or Ohio State are even still wanting him and to play soccer. I mean hey he’s good, but not good enough to play with one foot. This is the perfect time for Claude to give up. All of his fears about going away to college are still their and I fear that if he finds reason not to go away this fall then he will just find another next year and the year after that and his dream about being a cancer specialist will go down the drain. What he needs to do right now is to contact both Ohio State and New York and see what they are thinking towards everything that happened. He might not be able to play soccer this season, but he can still play soccer next season. He needs to get his head in the game because in this game there is no second chances. Not for adopted kids like us, whose family is struggling financially with so many medical bills we don’t know what to do with. We need all the chances we can get and I can just hope Claude didn’t just waste one on me.
Talking to Claude about all of this is something totally different than venting to you about it. I mean telling him straight up that he is being lazy and a wimp about going to college is a lot harder than it looks. I want the best for him and if begging to New York or Ohio State to give him that scholarship is going to work than he better be sending them flowers. First I just need to talk him into calling them and I have a feeling he is going to need some reassurance and that is where Allison comes in. She has already gone though the struggles of freshman year and hopefully she will talk him into seeing all the joys of college and leave out all of the nightmares.
All I hope is that he gets well soon and everything goes well with his surgery tomorrow. He has been nervous about it all week. That is something he wants to change by becoming a doctor or cancer specialist. He wants patients to feel completely comfortable when they go and have surgery, not all scared and worried like most patients are. Hopefully everything goes well and I can talk him into being a big boy and calling them. I would hate to see his future die because of one thought to be harmless choice.
Wish Claude luck!
Jezzabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
September 9, 1991
Dear mom and dad,
It is September again and the leaves are starting to change color. Fall is on the horizon. Winter will be the next stop. I am sad to say that things haven’t been going so well with me. I hope you guys are doing ok, but over here on my side, things aren’t looking pretty. For many months things were going ok, pretty good actually, but of course there is always an expiration date on luck. That is what Dr. Cole said when I came in last month. I hadn’t been feeling well lately. It wasn’t anything that Aunt Marci, or anyone thought they should be worried about, which is why I didn’t go I sooner. I was completely and totally exhausted when Monday rolled around. It was the 15 of August and I had spent most of the weekend sleeping and resting; plus I went to bed exactly at eight Sunday nigh, so I shouldn’t have been very tired. I was, though. It wasn’t really a tired feeling it was more of a drained one. As the day grew longer I started feeling weaker and weaker. My appetite dropped dramatically. Before I would eat the same amounts I use to before I got diagnosed, but over the past month, eating has been an issue for me. For some reason the sight or smell of food would just repulse me to the point where I could go two meals a day without eating and I would have to force myself to eat most of my third one. When I did eat it would be plain and simple things. Anything that wasn’t plain would upset my stomach. I never ran a fever until a whole week after I started feeling bad again. I just felt horrible and extremely drained, not sickly.
Last month around the 20th is when Aunt Marci started noticing the same things I was. Before then my symptoms weren’t serious and seemed like they weren’t a result of anything. The week of the twentieth, I started having more normal symptoms. The fever came back, as well as the nauseous, and aching feeling. On Tuesday of last week my temperature got up to 101.8 degrees which has to be the highest fever Aunt Marci could remember. She immediately called in to Dr. Cole’s office to make an appointment. Wednesday, Aunt Marci took me right to Dr. Cole’s office once they opened. When I came in and Dr. Cole checked me out, he didn’t seem as surprised as I was. I thought that just because luck doesn’t always last, doesn’t mean that I wont keep getting better. I thought that luck had nothing to do with it, but in a way I guess it did. Dr. Cole said without a doubt I had gotten another infection. He said that most likely the tired, rundown feeling was a mixture of the infection creeping it’s way into my body and just the leukemia itself. He said that I shouldn’t feel surprised if the feeling doesn’t go away for a while. The fever was definitely a result of the infection. When we left the doctors office that day, Dr. Cole said that he was taking a risk by sending me back home, but he felt that I can get better in no time and I wouldn’t need to be put back into the hospital. I was released with some medicine and was on my way back home within an hour.
The next day was fairly the same. I stayed home from school because if the medicine was helping it didn’t feel like it. I felt the same as I did yesterday, just with no fevers. Aunt Marci said that was a good sign that I was getting better. By Friday I was as close to getting better as I could be at that time and I went to school. I made it through school fine, but a couple of hours after I got home I started feeling sick once again. Almost all of my medicine was gone, which meant that I should be all the way better by then. I took the last of my medicine that night and when I woke up Saturday morning I felt even worse. The fever had returned along with everything else. Aunt Marci took my temperature and once again it was high. She called Dr. Cole, but since it was on the weekend, no one was in. Aunt Marci had a choice, she could either send me to the hospital or she could see if I could hold out until Monday. We both decided that I would try to hold off until Monday. She gave me some medicine for my fever and it went back down.
I was able to hold off until Monday and first thing Monday morning Aunt Marci called Dr. Cole and made me another appointment. When I went back in he ran some tests and said that I had gotten another infection. My blood counts were down from the last infection that I had barely gotten over. Dr. Cole wasn’t sure how I could have caught another infection the day after I got better from my last one, but having suck a low blood count might have helped cause it. The infection was much worse than my last one and Dr. Cole knew that sending me home with some medicine like he did last time was a bad idea. So, instead he sent me and Aunt Marci over to the hospital where I got admitted. Dr. Cole wanted me to get all the way better before I go home.
The first night at the hospital was miserable. Partly because I absolutely and one hundred percent did not want to be there and partly because I really didn’t feel well at all. I was up all night with a stomach ache because of the medicine Dr. Cole had proscribed, so I spent most of the next day sleeping. Dr. Reed took care of me while I was there. He said that he was glad to see how well I was doing and is sad to see how bad I had been feeling lately. He said that once I got this infection taken care of, I can go home and hopefully keep doing well.
The infection only lasted three days and on the fourth day I was there I got released from the hospital. While I was afraid Dr. Reed or Aunt Marci would bring up the school subject. Being out of school for four days is never good, especially when you have a record for either being absent or coming in late at least twice a week. I try to get to school as much as I can and I want to get to school as much as I can, but with everything going on sometimes it can be incredibly hard. Sometimes I think Aunt Marci and both of my doctors are right when they think everything would just be a lot easier if I was home schooled. I understand they have a point, but I just can’t imagine not waking up every morning and heading off to school. I can’t imagine not seeing my friends everyday and I even can’t imagine not coming home to loads of homework. I have gone to school since I was five and being home schooled to me would just be boring compared to the many years I have went to school. Thankfully Dr. Reed didn’t bring it up and neither did I.
Once I was released from the hospital things only became worse. No more infections, but the tired weak feeling didn’t go away. It doesn’t hurt, but the feeling of being tired all the time is kind of overwhelming. All I want to do now is sleep and sleep and sleep until I can’t physically sleep anymore. I wish so much that I could do that, but I have responsibilities and a life, so sleeping twenty-four-seven is not an option.
My blood counts haven’t gone up since my last infection, either. Plus adding on more and more chemotherapy on my very busy schedule, isn’t helping my low blood counts. Lately Dr. Cole has been giving me chemo twice a week, which is once more than I usually get. Dr. Cole said that for awhile there the cancer cells were dying pretty fast, but it was like after both of my infections, the cancer cells are becoming harder and harder to kill. Dr. Cole is pushing the chemo on me so much because he wants to get back to our schedule; where each time I get another session of chemo done, more cancer cells die. He said that, that is why I am feeling so lousy.
Seeing as though I haven’t been feeling so well, I have had to miss some pretty big things. One in particular would be Claude leaving for college. He ended up calling both colleges to see where he stood after a year and it turned out that both colleges still wanted him to go to their school on scholarship, which is remarkable. It wasn’t a very hard choice for Claude to make seeing as though his girlfriend, Allison, is going to a performing arts school up in New York. In the end Claude did chose New York over Tennessee. Knowing our days were limited, Claude and I spent every minute we could together. When that time was up Claude was off to New York. Even though he was afraid at first I made sure I reminded him that the first step is always the hardest, but once you have taken it you will be thankful you did. The day he left was the day after I got home from the hospital. Aunt Marci, Uncle Jeff, and the kids all drove up to New York with Claude to make sure he found everything ok and to say good-bye. Since I had just gotten out of the hospital I was not allowed to make the trip, so Claude and I said our good-bye’s before he left. Tracy stayed with me while everyone else went up to New York. It wasn’t a big thing, but I still would have loved to see what a real college campus looked like and to be there when everyone said their good-byes. Everything is all good though. We will see him back for Christmas, which is right around the corner. Also, he is taking me to New York for a couple of days for a book signing. Even though Claude has only been gone a month, I already miss him terribly and can’t wait for winter; even if it means snow and cold!
As for my book, there has been a tiny delay in the process due to my hospital trip. I am glad to say that it is turning out just like I had imagined it too. I am actually almost done with it and could be more excited to see how it turns out. I have got five more chapters to write and then I will be finished, so hopefully sometime next month I will be completely finished. Claude said that once I am finished he would love to read my book. I think I have really improved on my writing since I started. I have shed a new light on what this book really means to me. It is my life; my struggles, just with a different scenario and a different name.
I will have to say this, Dr. Cole said that I am at a rough patch right now with my leukemia. So, more hospital visits wont be too surprising, if they do occur. Writing most likely will be less frequent and shorter. Dr. Cole said that until the chemotherapy starts killing the cancer cells again, he will most likely schedule chemo twice a week for now on. That means that less and less school. Dr. Cole hasn’t pressured me yet, but I will be extremely surprised if he doesn’t soon. Like I said I have been thinking twice about home schooling. I don’t want to do it, but I may have to for the good of my grades.
Until Next Time,
Jezzabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
December 17, 1991
Dear mom and dad,
I am sorry I haven’t written to you in a while. Things have been just like Dr. Cole had said, hectic. When I went to write down the date on this letter I had to go and look on the calendar in the kitchen to see what month it is and the date. Although the date is easy to forget. The month is a little different; especially December. December is one of the biggest, most popular months; one that sound never be forgotten. It is sad to say that everyday now is just getting all cluttered together in this messed up head of mine. Honestly having time to remember the month, let alone the date, has been difficult.
A lot has happened in the two months I haven’t written to you. What started out as an infection started to slowly and subconsciously wear me down. Thinking about it now, using the word subconscious is definitely the right word. Looking back on the months that have passed I see that nothing happened suddenly and out of the blue. It all ran it’s course slowly. I didn’t know how bad I really felt until I wrote that just then. It isn’t an agonizing pain, it is just a very sick feeling. As if you were sick, but you didn’t feel bad at that moment, but you knew you should feel bad because you are sick, so you start feeling sick, but more of a tired, drained feeling, rather than your stomach hurting or something.
It is like after I started getting the infections everything went haywire. It seemed like I would get a new infection once every two weeks. Compared to almost never getting one, that is a lot of infections in a short time. On top of that since I have gotten chemotherapy twice a week for two months now, my blood count has been at all time low; even counting when I first got diagnosed. Most patient’s blood counts usually don’t ever get lower than when they first get diagnosed, but obviously mine has. All of that means that I haven’t been feeling so hot for a while. Since now I haven’t really felt the effects of my leukemia, but now that I have I am wishing they would go away again. Sleeping, eating, school work, writing, and reading are my main activities nowadays since I am so tired.
Dr. Cole made it very clear that school was becoming a problem when I had to be remitted into the hospital for the third time in a month. He said that enough was enough and who were we trying to kid? Having leukemia and living a normal life just don’t work out so well; especially at my stage. Right now I am at stage two of my chemo, but Dr. Reed is questioning when I will get to move on to stage three, or if I even will. From now and the last time I wrote to you, I have caught many infections, but my third one was the one that pushed school out of my picture. I had missed a whole week with that infection and making up my work wasn’t going to happen. For a while there I thought I was going to have another ok year at school. Everything started well, just like last year. Both Dr. Cole and I just decided that I should stop working myself to death and take what I can get and run with it. So, last month I started home schooling. It is totally different from a real school. In a lot of good ways, too. I thought it would be terrible, but now I have learned that I probably should have started being home schooled a long time ago. I can work on my schedule. Which means that if I have a doctors appointment in the morning, I wouldn’t have to miss a whole day of school for it, I can just start school when I get home. If I wasn’t feeling well because I just had chemo done the day before, I could get up and go to the bathroom as much as I needed and take as much medicine as I needed, when I needed it! I don’t have to go anywhere, so I can stay in my pajamas all day long. Plus my grades are a whole lot better, obviously. I can study and concentrate a lot more and I can make it to school everyday because I am school. Where ever I go school goes with me, which ended up being a plus since some dramatic changes started happening.
Last month I went in for my weekly doctors appointment, as if I hadn’t been in there three other times that week, and Dr. Cole throw out some things that I felt shouldn’t have been thrown out. He said that since chemo has ceased to start working again and the leukemia is definitely taking a toll on my body, I might need to be checked back into the hospital, at least until the chemo starts to work again and I am feeling better. He said for the same reason I stayed so long when I first got diagnosed. I wasn’t strong enough to leave and definitely not healthy enough.
In the end Aunt Marci decided to take Dr. Cole’s advice, which made me mad, and I got checked back into the hospital. In the end Aunt Marci says it has paid off so far, since almost every week I have come down with another infection that would probably have lead me back into the hospital if I was at home, anyway. Still, I didn’t like her deciding my future by herself. I realize she is much older and wiser than I am, but it is my life and I definitely did not want to go back to the hospital. This is one of the times I miss Claude the most. He would have spoke up for me. He would have supported my decision and talked Aunt Marci into letting me stay home. He understands me. Aunt Marci didn’t even ask me for my input. She didn’t even look my way when she said we would sign me into the hospital. Claude would have listened to me, but no, Claude is in New York.
Dr. Reed became my doctor again until I get released, which is a relief. If I had to go back to this jail cell, I at least wanted to have to doctor I became friends with last time I was here. One of the first things Dr. Reed said to Aunt Marci and myself was that he was fearful of my progress. At this stage he pretty much said that I was dying and the more I think about it, the more I realize he is right. Before the only thing that was keeping me alive was the chemo killing the cancer cells, but now that the chemo is ceasing to kill any cancer cells there is really nothing keeping me alive other than my medicine, but even that wont keep me a live forever. It surely wont get rid of the cancer cells that have inhabited my body. Dr. Reed said that I was doing so good, until something pushed all of the good away and brought back bad.
At this point all I can think about is getting better. I am sleeping half the day and all night, I am hardly eating anything, and I am aching all over. Lifting my arm is even beginning to hurt. I seem to walk a little slower than I use to and feel shaky enough to were I have to reach out for a hand rail sometimes. As much as my book is important to me, getting better is even more. Getting better is my main priority and I can only hope it comes soon. Christmas seems unimportant to me now, so do my dreams because without a life my dreams are just dreams. They will never come true.
It seems that I hate thinking anymore. I hate thinking about dying. It is a scary thought and every time I open my mind up, thoughts of dying enter my head. I have stayed positive this long and I will continue to stay positive; that is if I can stop thinking completely. I am sick and I know that now. It is now not a struggle to get better faster; it is a struggle to get better period. I don’t care how fast, I just want to know that I am getting better. I am dying now and until the chemo starts working again I will continue to get weaker and weaker. I will continue to eat less and less. I will continue to be more and more tired, and I will continue to die. I have that in my head now and it is going to take a lot of effort to get it out. I feel helpless, but not hopeless. I can still hope that one of these days the chemo will start working again and I will slowly regain my health and my strength. It is funny how months ago I could write much more pages without my hand hurting. Now just writing five pages hurts my hands. I wish I could write more, but I would rather fall asleep in my bed than on the porch swing.
Jezzabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
January 23, 1992
Dear mom and dad,
Love: love can be an adjective, it can be a noun, but more commonly used, it can be a verb. The definition in the dictionary and my definition are two completely different things. The dictionary says that love is an extreme admiring of a person or thing. My definition is a bond greater than words can describe. That is why they made up a word for it, love. It isn’t a liking, even though you must like them. It is stronger than any adjective you could put in place for it. Describing love is extremely hard to everyone because there really aren’t words to explain such a grand feeling. Love is what I feel towards my family. All my life I have loved to write and found myself exceedingly good at writing, but still I am out of words to describe love. I love a number of people, but love exceeds any word put to the test.
What I am getting at, is that I love a lot of people and I don’t want to lose anyone of them, but as the days go by without the chemo working, I feel I need to face my fears now instead of when it is too late. Am I going to die? I can’t answer that question. Dr. Reed can’t answer that question. Only God can answer that question. I am dying and have been for months now. It seems to me that it is just a matter of time and that is how Dr. Reed feels too. He is devastated, but then again any doctor would be if they had to tell their patients there is nothing else for them to do. That is what he told me. He said that for months and months the chemo hasn’t started working again. Without the chemo killing the cancer cells, the cancer just grows and grows until it takes over the body. Most likely that is what is happening inside me right now. The cancer cells are reproducing and are starting to take over. Both Dr. Reed and myself knew that it would be of no use if we continued to put me through chemo. Dr. Reed told me last month that their was nothing more they could do. He said he could always keeping trying the chemo for as long as we could pay for it, but the chances of it actually starting to work again were close to none. Aunt Marci was hesitant to drop the chemo and the medicines, but before she could object I said that cutting everything was a good idea. Aunt Marci knew that we were barely getting by because all the medicines and doctors visits were so expensive. Making the choice to stop everything was a tough one. Many people believe that I am giving up and I am, but not because I can’t fight anymore, but because I know in my heart that giving up is the right thing to do.
What I have learned from entering God’s light, is that he will always be there protecting me. No, my life hasn’t been perfect, but no ones is, that is life. Just because I got leukemia doesn’t mean that God wants to punish me. In a way I believe he is rewarding me because I have learned so much from this experience that could fill up a life time. What ever is meant to be will be. That is the line that is most dear to my heart and I most strongly believe in. God knows what is right for me and what isn’t. I have to believe in him and know that what ever happens, it happens for a reason. God loves me and wants the best for me. If dying is the best for me than I am more than happy to die knowing that God will always be with me. He has been through this whole process and I absolutely wouldn’t know what to do without him.
Even though people may call it suicide, me stopping everything, I feel it is right. I believe God is telling me something and if I didn’t listen I would regret it. I feel that He is calling to me and I am not going to ignore that. So, I have made my decision, in hopes that it is the right one.
Is this our last time talking? I am not sure, but if it is I sure enjoyed it; even if I did all of the talking. Even after all this time I still feel that you should be a part of my life. You are my real parents. You gave birth to me and deserve to know who your daughter is. I understand that you didn’t want me to be a part of your life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of mine. If you got these letters great. I know I never got a reply, but that never made me stop. I love you and I want to let you know that now. You gave me life and if that is all you will ever give me than I will take it with a smile. My one wish that I do have before I die, even if it is not any time soon, is to meet you. I want to know who my real parents are. As much as Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff love me and act like my real parents, they are not and they never will be. You will always hold a special place in my heart and I want you to know that. Getting to meet my real parents would be amazing. Even if it is only once and for a short time. I would still treasure it always. I could finally feel free to die, knowing that my life is as complete as it is going to get. I mean I realize that I will never go to prom or get married or have kids, but the things I can do I will treasure forever. I want to make you one of those treasures.
<3 is a heart, for every month I love you more! Count them up there are a lot of hearts. If this is our last conversation I want you to know that I love you for all that you have done, even if it is a short list. I will never forget you and I really haven’t even meet you.
You loving daughter,
Jezzabelle <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Chapter One: Havoc and Distress
When life takes a turn for the worst what are you suppose to do? Shield away the pain and suffer through it or break into a million tiny pieces? Dealing with pain comes in all shapes and sizes depending on the person. If pain comes easy to you then suffering through it and getting back to normal life is what you do, but if pain comes like murder to you then obviously breaking into a million tiny pieces would be the normal routine when it comes to pain.
I have always been the suffer through it and get back to normalcy, but the one thing I never thought of is, what if life will never go back to normal? What if the pain and the suffering lasts forever? My family on the other hand all react differently too. All though out my life I have witnessed pain and suffering in all of my family members. Sometimes many times, but the one time I see them all suffer together is when they are strongest.
I know suffer no more, but my family does. Everybody who cared about me is suffering now. I am down in heaven now; looking down at my family while they go through the day they never wanted to come - my funeral. The person that is suffering the most must be Claude, but that is not surprising. The guilt he is feeling now is unbearable, even to the strongest of man. Now I am looking down from heaven. I can not do anything to stop his guilt. I can not be there for him like he was there for me.
The day of my death was like any other. Nothing surprising or astonishing happened. Everyone knew that the days were closing in on me and I would soon take my last breath. Dr. Reed told us months before that there was nothing else they could do and I accepted that. I knew that it was time and I was right. I didn’t want to die in the hospital my wish was to die at home with my family by my side. I got released from the hospital and went home. Things only seemed to get worse, which was expected. It got to the point where sleeping was my main activity. I would stay in bed for hours bored out of my mind. I wished that I could go outside and play like other kids my age. As the days closed in, the one worry that I had along this whole process ceased to exist. Dying is a fear for everybody. It is one of those things that when someone asks you what you are afraid of, you don’t waste a fear on dying because everybody is. I knew that I was dying and all I could do was try to spend my last days the way I wanted to. I wasn’t afraid of dying because I knew that I wouldn’t be alone when I did. I knew that God had called me into his kingdom for a purpose. How could anyone be afraid of that?
I died on March 3, 1992; just days before Claude was suppose to come home for break and just days before we were suppose to leave for New York for my birthday present. Claude feels guilty because his biggest fear, the reason why he stayed home with me when he was suppose to go off to college, came true. When Claude left for college last fall he thought that I had gotten a lot better and was under good hands. He thought he didn’t have to worry about losing me like he had worried about the past year. Aunt Marci and I purposely told Claude that I wasn’t as good as I had been, but I was ok. Both Aunt Marci and I knew that if Claude thought that I wasn’t doing good, he would be on his way home before we even would get a chance to talk him out of it. Claude wasn’t here when I died. He is not only mad at himself for not being there for me, but he is also mad at Aunt Marci for not telling him how bad I had gotten. In the future he might just thank Aunt Marci for saving his future, but now he is only filled with hatred. After I died Aunt Marci called Claude and told him. He was home in a flash.
No one really has been the same since I died. Claude especially. He wont talk to anyone; not even Allison and definitely not Aunt Marci. He hasn’t been back to school since my death. He locks himself in his room with all the lights off and stays there for hours. My only wish is that I could do something to help him cope. The thoughts in his mind are gruesome. His future is on the line once again and I want to help him, but I can’t. Getting him back to college is now the problem. He sees no purpose in life anymore. People try to talk to him everyday. They try to get him to see the light, but nothing works and I fear that nothing will.
God called me to heaven for a reason. My time on Earth was up and I had to except that. Is everything one hundred percent clear now that I am in heaven? No, that is for sure, but I think I finally realized my purpose for living the life I did. I had an idea as to what my calling was, writing. The idea for my book wasn’t just thought of; it was fixed into my brain as if someone wanted it there. I now know who, God. That is my guess anyways. God works in mysterious ways. Everyone has a purpose in life. One that is greater than you can ever imagine. My gift is writing. Now that I am in heaven I know what to do. I know exactly what to do. The only problem now is I need Claude to realize what he needs to do. Making him realize he needs to do something is hard enough. Now I have to lead him to my gift to him.
As the hours proceed and the hour of my funeral approaches, last minute preparations are being made. While Aunt Marci, Uncle Jeff, Allison, and Tracy are all running around the church like a chicken with it’s head cut off, trying to make everything the way I would want it, Claude is at home in his room with the lights off as he weeps on his bed. Having the gift now to read peoples minds can be both important and extremely troublesome at the same time. Sometimes, like with Dr. Reed the thoughts are good and uplifting. Other times, like with Claude, the thoughts are terrifying. Claude loves me and always will, but that doesn’t mean he can’t live his life the way he always wanted to. I know Claude wasn’t planning on coming to my funeral. Not for the reason he doesn’t respect me, but because he knows he couldn’t take it. Losing it in front of hundreds of people is not on his to-do list. As much as I feel going to my funeral would make him get over my death, there is just nothing that I can do. At least that is what I thought, anyways. As he was sitting in his room with a gun in his hand, contemplating the life or death of his future, it hit me as if I had been blind all this time and now I finally see. Memories flow the long stream of my brain. The words Claude used to make me see the light echo in my head uncontrollably. My past comes back to life and the memories that will for now only be just memories, ring in my ear. Claude was my savior now I need to be his.
Chapter Two: Jezzabelle’s funeral
6:00 p.m. March 10, 1992
As the church bells chime and the funeral officially starts, Aunt Marci searches the crowds of people looking for one person and one person only. Did she care if her own mother came? No, not at the moment. Later on she would need the support, but now the only face she needed to see was Claude’s. The chances of him coming were very low and she knew that, but the hope never ceased. All throughout the morning and a few times in the early afternoon Aunt Marci had tried to call Claude. Every time no answer. When she tried the third time and still no answer Aunt Marci got worried. She went with her better judgment and raced over to the house to check on him. As she scoped the house out, the words, nothing out of the normal, sprang in her head. Weeks before, the behavior Claude was progressing would be completely disturbing and bizarre to Aunt Marci, but now it seems horribly normal and herself, along with me, wonder when this behavior will end.
Don’t worry even though Claude did not open the door, Claude was in his room with the lights on, still breathing. When Aunt Marci called into the room to as him if he was aright, the answer was short and simple, Yes. After she asked if he was coming to the funeral he through his shoe that Aunt Marci had laid out for him along with a suit that morning. His only reply was go away. Aunt Marci obeyed his request and hurried back to the church to finish preparing for the funeral.
Aunt Marci now wonders if she should have demanded his appearance at the funeral. As much as she knows it will do her good to be there and for her to accept my death, she can only think it would help Claude. She could be wrong though and demanding him to come might just make everything worse. Anyways she can’t just ground him if he didn’t come. He is not ten anymore.
The first stage of the ceremony starts and ends without a hitch. The biggest thought in Aunt Marci’s mind throughout the ceremony was if I would like it. I can say that I did. In my mind Claude had always been the one who understood me the most. I now know that other people did too. Flowers were everywhere and especially my favorite, orchids. The most beautiful words came out of the priests mouth as he began the ceremony. When it was time for the people who wanted to speak, everyone was on the verge of tears. Claude was suppose to go first; Aunt Marci’s decision not his. Instead Aunt Marci took her spot and began her heart breaking speech.
When the first section of the funeral was over everyone gathered in their cars and proceeded to the cemetery where my body would rest in peace for eternity. Once everyone was safely at the cemetery Aunt Marci began the long walk over to my open coffin. Everyone followed her. As the second part of the funeral began Aunt Marci saw a figure coming toward the grave pushing past people to meet Aunt Marci. No one bothered to hesitate when it was their turn to make way. As much as Aunt Marci wanted a real, pure smile to appear on her face, only a deceiving, over done smile appeared as Claude positioned himself next to Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff.
After the funeral was officially over Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff left Claude to make their way to every awaiting guest. Claude was on a mission of his own. After some last minute calls right before the funeral, he finally tracked down the two people he needed to talk to. Claude got into his car and made his long trip to New York, where he would await his future.
Chapter Three: Surprise, Surprise
As Claude made the long drive to New York the only thing in his mind was me, Jezzabelle. Many times he stopped and smacked his fist on the car as if that would help anything. The note that brought him to New York got crumbled up and thrown at everyone of these stops. Not soon later he would realize what he had done. Quickly he would pick up the crumpled paper and unfold it as if it were a newborn baby. He read the note over and over again until tears filled his eyes. Then he proceeded to his car again only to do the same thing every half hour to an hour.
Once he got to New York he took a piece of paper out of his pocket with an address on it. He drove for another half hour then slowed the car to almost a stop. He starred out the window at a small house with red shutters, a porch filled with bent beer cans, and a lawn that looks to be a month overdue for a cut. Claude looks down at the address and back at his paper. After some recognition he starts to pull into the driveway. After five minutes of contemplating, Claude finally reads the note once again. This time instead of throwing it he smooths out the crumples and folds it up. He gets out of the car, note in pocket carrying three large folders. As he reaches the porch his stomach lunches into outer space. When it returns it is filled with butterflies. He is indecisive as to what he is going to do if they answer. Is he going to yell at them or is he going to hug them? He reaches for the doorbell. Once he hears foot steps coming towards the door he contemplates running back to the car and taking off, but then he realizes why he is here in the first place. The door opens and a tall woman with chestnut brown hair and blue eyes fills the space between the porch and inside. Claude watches as she gets ready to say something. “May I help you?” the woman asks in a high pitched voice. As Claude looks closer he sees that her eyes are the same shade as his. The starring continues until a man appears beside the woman. The man has dirty blonde hair, brown eyes, and is fit for his age. They both must be in their late forties. The woman looks at the man. “If you are going to ask us if we want to buy anything why don’t you just do it already so we can say no?” The man asks in a deep, heavy voice. When Claude says nothing the man goes to close the door.
“Wait!” Claude shouts. “Don’t you recognize me?” The woman opens the door and stares at Claude until she can find no recognition. When she doesn’t she nodes her head no.
“My name is Claude. Are you Lindsey and Mike Fisher?” Claude asks already knowing the answer.
“Yes we are they,” the man replies.
“Then you should know who I am; or have you forgotten me in the last twenty years? Listen I didn’t come to chat. I came to make a point. My sister, your daughter, Jezzabelle, is dead. She died from leukemia earlier this month. If you still don’t know who I am I no longer care because I already know that you are horrible parents. Whether my name rings a bell or Jezzabelle’s name rings a bell, that doesn’t matter. What does is that you realize what mistake you made so many years ago. I am not mad at you for what you did, but I do think you are fools to give away such a remarkable little girl. Then again maybe I should be thanking you instead of sympathizing because if it wasn’t for your mistake, I never would have meet Jezzabelle. I came here today to give you something. Actually two things. After Jezzabelle’s death I was walking through Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff’s bedroom. You remember them right. They are the ones who took your little troubles away from you. They are Jezzabelle’s and my adoptive parents. I was walking through Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff’s bedroom when I saw a crumpled piece of paper by the trash can and I felt the need to go and throw it away. When I went to pick it up your names caught my eye. I knew that you were Jezzabelle’s birth parents, so I smoothed it out and read it. Let’s just say I read some startling stuff in that letter. Stuff that made me think about life in a whole other way. I have the letter. I felt the need to bring it to you since it was pretty obvious that Aunt Marci never sent it. Maybe it was too painful, or maybe she thought she was doing the right thing, but this is what I think is the right thing. I think you need to read it. Some useful things are in there,” Claude took the note out of his pocket and handed it over. Lindsey and Mark starred at the paper until Lindsey reached out for it. She slowly started to open it up. Both confusion and worry had been the only thing on both their faces since Claude had shown up at their door. When she took the letter things started to fall into place. “There is another thing too. Sometime last week Aunt Marci got a rather large package in the mail from the post office. She opened the box then hurried it to her room. Later that night when she was busy with Jezzabelle’s funeral I snuck into her room and opened the box. It took me a while to realize what it was,” Claude said opening up the first folder he had brought with him. He carefully pulls out a letter about three pages long.
“Jezzabelle wrote these; all 28 of them. One of each month. She wrote them to you. I know that she has tried writing to you before and I know she never got a reply. I didn’t know why then, but now I do. Aunt Marci had made the decision to give Jezzabelle a wrong address when she came asking for one years ago. Aunt Marci thought that it was the right thing at the time and maybe it was. When Jezzabelle sent out the letters Aunt Marci would get them back months later from the post office with a letter saying that there was no address that fit the one Jezzabelle keep putting. Aunt Marci would then hid them away. None of us knew that she had started writing to you again. Aunt Marci says in the letter that if Jezzabelle had asked her for your address she would have given it to her; the real one. That was Aunt Marci’s mistake and she knows it. When Aunt Marci got all of these letters back she couldn’t help feel horrible about her actions. I don’t know if Aunt Marci knows if I took them or even where I am. I left the funeral and drove all the way here from Cincinnati to talk to you. They are yours. As much as I would love to keep them and read them over and over again they are not mine. Yes, they are pieces of paper, but they are much more than that. She writes about her life and how she wants you to be a part of it. Aunt Marci wanted you to have them and so do I,” Claude says putting the first letter back in it’s proper folder than handing over all three of them. Lindsey reaches out and takes them. She opens them then closes them.
“I had to come and show you how big of a mistake it was when you put her up for adoption. She will always be my angel and everything I have learned about life has come from her. I don’t know how I would have made it through all of those years without her. I think that is why her death hit me so hard. I should have been thinking right when Aunt Marci said that Jezzabelle wasn’t doing so good. I should have picked up on the way Aunt Marci said that. I should have known something was wrong, but I didn’t. I didn’t get home from college until it was too late. I will never forgive myself for that. All this time everyone had always told me to think positive thoughts even Jezzabelle; she was the best at that. The only problem with that is what if the happy ending you are imagining doesn’t come true? You have only thought of the positive and when life makes you think about the negative you are not ready. She really truly is a remarkable little girl and I am sorry you didn’t get to see that,” Claude says as he turns around and walks off the porch and to his car. Lindsey and Mike stand at the door frozen at what just happen. Both have shocked looks on their faces. Claude watches as he gets in his car Lindsey opens the letter Aunt Marci wrote. As Lindsey and Mike stare down at the paper, Claude recites the letter by heart.
Dear Mike and Lindsey,
I don’t think this should be happening, me writing to you about your daughters death. I assumed there would be a phone call or something. I didn’t think that I would have to write to my little girls birth mother and father about her passing. It kills me saying that word. She didn’t deserve it, but you never knew that, so why should I bother explaining it? For some reason I feel I should though. Your daughter was strong. She fought the leukemia. She didn’t let it take over her, but in the end the leukemia won. I knew that if I was put into her position I would crack way before she did. She wasn’t afraid of dying, just of being alone. The more I think about it the more I realize that it isn’t fair. She was a good girl, a good person. She got good grades and always listened to me. I was truly blessed being able to spend time being her mother, even if it was only for eleven years. It is more than you ever got to spend with her. I am not writing you to start a fight. I am writing to say I feel bad. I feel bad that you lost the thing that should have been your most important thing, your daughter. You made bad decisions. I hope you know that now. I hope you have learned that there is more to life than drugs and crime; a lot more! Your little girl was special. It is too bad you didn’t get to experience that.
She wanted to meet you. Before she died. I found letters that could fill a book all written to you. I didn’t tell her why she was adopted. I didn’t tell her who her mother and father truthfully are. I was afraid she would get hurt, but maybe I should have. Maybe I should have told her that her mother and father are drug addicts who got sent to jail a month after she was born. I didn’t know she was writing the letters. I would have told her then. I couldn’t help but read them. Out of all of her things those letters are the ones I would like to keep and read it over and over again. But it is not mine to keep. They were meant for you. I know I should have been truthful with her when it came to you, but like I said I didn’t want her to get her hopes up and then get them crushed. So, when she came asking me for your address when she was seven I made up one. I knew years ago she tried to write to you, but I didn’t know she had tried again. All of the letters got sent back to us when the post office couldn’t find an address that matched the one I gave her. I just got the letters back yesterday. In her last letter it said that the one things she wanted before she died was to meet you. I feel horrible now. I didn’t know that was what she wanted. I wouldn’t have let her meet you if she hadn’t been sick, but since she was I would have done everything I can to make sure she met her parents. It is to late for that now I understand, but I am giving you the notes she wrote to you. There are 28 letters all together. Just over two years worth of letters since she wrote one every month. The ones she wrote before she died are last. I know you might not care about your daughter, but I promise you that once you read them you are going to feel horrible. I am not a horrible person. I want you to know that, but you deserve to feel bad. You made the wrong decisions and you had to pay for it, but even when you got out of jail and tried to get her back you still made the wrong decisions and ended up back in jail. I guess I should be thanking you though, because if you were good parents Jeezabelle wouldn’t be our little angel. She is though. None of us will ever forget her. We couldn’t forget her. She has impacted all of our lives the most. Especially Claude’s. You remember him don’t you? Your other child. The one where you did the same thing you did to Jeezabelle. Honestly I think you are stupid for making the same mistake twice. You could have had everything you could ever want, but you go and choose drugs over your kids. It was always mysterious to me how easy and fast Claude and Jeezabelle became close. They were inseparable and in a way they still are. I always said how much they act like real brothers and sisters. That is because they are. I haven’t told Claude yet. I am not sure how he will react after he hears. I am fearful. He loved her and still does. Jeezabelle’s funeral is Thursday. I plan on telling him then. It might not be the best time to tell him, but I have to get it out sometime. You are invited to come. It will be held at St. Matthews Church at 6:00 p.m. If you were to come I believe that it would make the worlds difference when I tell Claude. Or maybe you could tell him, since you are his parents. Jeezabelle is dead, but that doesn’t mean she can’t meet her parents for the first time. I know that she would like it if you came. It would mean a lot to Claude also. There are so many secrets I kept from the two of them. Ones that I wish I hadn’t. I can only hope they both can forgive me.
If you don’t come I will understand, but Claude might not. Nor will Jeezabelle. You are their mother and father and it is time for them to know that. I hope for once in your life you make the right decision and come.
Claude gets in the car and smiles to himself as he drives down the road. The first time he smile since my death. He is proud of himself and I most definitely am. He did something most people weren’t brave enough to do; Aunt Marci especially. Getting all of that off his chest made him feel good. It made him feel free. He knew his heart would heal one of these days and he would be alright, but the memory of me will always be in his mind, the way it should. One project is completed, but another is just around the corner. He likes that feeling. The feeling of being in control and living life. He sure has missed it.
Chapter Four: Life Saver
Life is like breathing, breaths are made every second by a million people and lives are changed every second by millions of people. Just like you have to keep breathing to live, you have to keep moving on with your life to live. That is not easy. Breathing on the other hand can be. My motto is that the first step is always the hardest, but once you have taken it you will be thanking yourself for doing so. Moving on is never easy, but you have to make an attempt. That is what Claude learned he had to do. To take life one step at a time and to never waste a minute wishing you could redo something. Getting back on his feet after my passing was hard for him and for everyone. Claude is strong, though. It’s just sometimes he doesn’t realize how strong he really is.
I bet you guys are wondering what happened after Claude left my birth parents house so many years ago. Well let me just start off saying that a lot of things happened, but I am pretty sure you know that already. Something clicked in Claude’s mind the day of my funeral. Things started making since again. Before he felt that their was no more reason to live, but once he put his head back on straight, he learned that their was so much to live for. The most important reason was for me. He needed to live and live a happy, wonderful life for me and for himself. He needed a little help, though, with getting back on his feel. That is where a little magic comes into play.
After Aunt Marci left the day of my funeral, Claude felt compelled to take one last look in my room. With some rummaging around, Claude eventually found what I wanted him to find. What he needed to find. He picked up the binder that was laying opened on my desk and started looking through it. He was confused at first to what it was until he remembered my dream and my gift. The last page I wrote was open. He flipped the binder to the beginning and took a seat on by bed. After ten pages into my book Claude finally realized how everything fit. The letter Aunt Marci had wrote to Lindsey and Mike and the box of letters from me to my birth parents. He finally realized what he needed to do. What I wanted him to do.
After he got back to Cincinnati Aunt Marci of course flipped out the minute he took a step in the door, but once he could get out of the center of attention, he snuck back into my room and closed he door. He spent the rest of the night reading until he couldn’t possibly read another page without his eye balls falling out from all of the reading he had done. When he woke up the next morning he finished what I wrote, noting that the book definitely wasn’t finished. The ending was laid out and to Claude’s understanding only a few more pages would need to be added for the book to be complete. At first Claude was only disappointed that the book wasn’t finished. Once he realized what I had wanted all along he realized his next mission. He knew this book wasn’t just a book for me; it was my life. I wanted it to be a learning experience for everyone who read it, but it wasn’t finished.
The minute the idea popped into Claude’s head he raced to get his keys and head to the library with the binder. Once he was their he spent the next two days rewriting the story, adding a detail here and there to make it sound better or fixing a spelling mistake. Once he was finished with my part of the story he put his thinking cap on. Within a week Claude had perfected my story and even finished it. The ending had a twist. A twist it needed. I can remember all the nights I spent thinking about how I wanted the ending to go. I remember thinking that this way would be too boring or this other way would be too deceiving. Nothing seemed to fit together, but the minute Claude’s thoughts hit the page I knew magic would happen. And I turned out to be right since I am always right……….well a girl can wish right?
It is 2002 now and everything that happened, happened in the past. Things took a turn for the best for Claude and the rest of my family. The twins are finishing up high school and they both have scholarships to Julliard for performing arts. Melanie is going to Julliard to dance. Landon is the pianist in the family. Even though they were both still babies when everything happened over the years stories got told and little by little they got to know me and what wonders I did. Kara is in her last year in college and will soon become a second grade teacher. Hailey has one more year of college to go. She is majoring in law and soon wants to become a judge once she graduates from college. Tony is now all grown and has a family. He has a beautiful wife named Stephanie and one baby boy named Tyler and another on the way. Watching them always bring joy to my eyes. Tracy is also married and has three kids. Tracy married a guy she started dating in college. He daughters name is Mary and she is nine, her two sons are Landon and Declan. Landon is six and Declan just turned three a couple weeks ago. Even Thomas is doing great. He was married then got divorced, but that didn’t stop him one bit. He became a very famous surgeon and is making millions. Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff have been better, but they are still hanging in their. After my death Uncle Jeff finally decided it was time to come home from Indiana. He still hadn’t found a suitable job in Cincinnati, but he realized that the family needed him home. After two years of only coming home on the weekends, Uncle Jeff was finally reunited with him family. Months later he found a better job. One that paid him what he deserved. As Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff grow older it seems that more and more body parts start to ache, but that is normal. They both continued to take foster kids until they got to an age where it became nearly imposable. I will never forget the most important thing they both taught me. That love doesn’t have a price. You don’t have to have money to be happy and they are the best examples of that. They have never had much, but they surely do have love and that is all they could ever want.
I bet your wondering about Claude. Well Claude is better than ever! To me it seems like the day I died Claude’s life just started running. He was always destined for greatness, I knew that. All he did in his life so far is prove that to me. Yeah, at first it was a little hard, but he made mistakes and learned from them. He is truly me inspiration.
It took twenty-nine days for North West Publications to agree to publish my book. After Claude fixed my mistakes and added the ending my book turned out to be a best seller. May of 1992 my book, My Gift, came out in print all over the United States. Months later it became available all over the world. In August My Gift became New York Times best seller. The one thing that amazed me the most about it all, was that Claude didn’t put his name as the author, he put mine. Yes, people asked questions and he would answer then truthfully. In a year my name spread around the globe. Words like genius, extraordinary, and magical worker, got simulated with my name, but in truth I am none of those things. I have never been any of those things. I am me, Jezzabelle. A girl who had a story to tell. A story that I hoped would change the world some day. A story to make people realize what all they have because who knows when it is all going to be gone. I strongly believe in everything I wrote in that book. If I got a choice to go back and change the outcome of my life, I wouldn’t change a thing. Dying is a big thing and I most definitely did not want to die, but so many people have learned so much by my death and the struggles that I had to go through. I wouldn’t change that for anything, even death.
Two years after My Gift was published, Claude finally graduated from college. His dream of finding a cure for cancer never ceased; even through everything that has happened. His passion only grew stronger. He majored in medical science throughout college and later became a doctor. His dream of being a cancer specialist never ceased either and two years later he went back to school to become a cancer specialist. He now has a stable job at the very same hospital I spent a lot of my time in while I had leukemia. He is still searching for a cure for cancer, but by the way things are looking for Claude, finding the cure for cancer shouldn’t be that far away. More and more research is done everyday. I can only hope that Claude or anyone else learns the cure for cancer. Claude couldn’t save my life, but that doesn’t mean he can’t save a million other peoples lives.
A year after he graduated from college Claude got up the guts to propose to Allison, his high school sweetheart. She had been through everything with him and she definitely is one lucky woman. Of course she said yes and half a year later they got married at the same church my funeral was held in. It was a sight to see, but you had to be their to see how magical it was. Now Claude is happily married with two kids. Two adorable girls, Claire and Jezzabelle. Yes, Claude had to name his little girl after me. Claire is twelve and Jezzabelle is seven.
Over the years Claude not only has fit time for his work, studies, and family, but has fit time to continue writing. After he finished My Gift, he learned that writing helps him heal. He has written three books after My Gift, but only two of them have gotten published.
In reality Claude’s life just started after my death. He is my inspiration, but most of all I am his. Claude is blessed and always has. God works in mysterious ways and you might not always understand why He does some of the thing He does, but the one lesson both Claude and I learned is that you have to believe and trust that God knows the right path. My book was my gift to the world. That is why I was put on this Earth. Being given up for adoption and finding Aunt Marci and Uncle Jeff was another gift. Without them I would have never meet my real brother, Claude. Claude now lives his life through me and has brought so many things to this world. Maybe, if God plans for this, Claude might just find the cure for cancer, but if not he most definitely was put on this earth for a reason.
Now you know God works in mysterious ways, are you going to brave enough to take the challenge and accept that God put you on this earth for a reason? It is your turn now to find that reason and help make the world a better place because it is in dire need of some help now. Will you take the challenge? I did.