You were adored. Your mom sat tirelessly at your bedside each and every day. Her love for you was absolutely palpable. She carried pride in the fact that she was your mother and sorrow from the fact that she was slowly losing you to this horrific disease. You had her sarcasm. She reminded you that your good taste in music came from her. “Face it! I’m more hip than you kid,” she would joke. You meant the world to her and she was ready to give up everything in order to have you live just one more day!
You were the perfect combination of an overpowering and caring older sister! Your sister cherished you. You were her hero and she yours! Despite the dire circumstance in which we all met, getting to know your family was both humbling and refreshing. As I peeped into your hospital room, I saw three audacious, intrepid women: you, the fighter, who refused to let cancer become your legacy; your younger sister, the savior, who donated her bone marrow to you to keep you alive a bit longer; your mom, the matriarch, who represented the strong foundation that kept this family afloat. You three amazing women reminded me of how beautiful it was to even have the limited chance to exist in the presence of unconditional, irrevocable love.
You were a warrior. You carried intense battle scars on your body from past surgeries, multiple biopsies, lumbar punctures, and central lines. These scars became the roadmap of your journey as a patient and fighter. You bore wounds in your soul that ran deeper than the physical markings on your body. These wounds were a culmination of events that stole your “normal” teenage experience and traded it in for hospital stays, chemotherapy, and a bone marrow transplant. Despite the tragedies and disappointments that came with battling cancer, you stood ground and fought with all might. You also never lost your sense of humor and will to just be.
You were a rockstar! You and I first connected over our mutual love for alternative and indie rock music. We bonded over old Coldplay songs and shared our favorite music videos. I found it fitting that your favorite song was Ophelia by The Lumineers. Ophelia is a name of Greek origin and means “help” and “succor.” You embodied the meaning of Ophelia. You carried the burden of being the help we all needed while you fought this battle. You encouraged your family to realize that you did not pity your condition. You aided them into the realization that though your life was short, it was full of accomplishments and gratitude. You allowed your caretakers to realize that you being sick did not by default make you weak. You helped us realize that you had so much kindness to offer to the world. This kindness was one that transcended the boundaries of the numbered days that you lived. Without even knowing it, you were exactly what we all longed for and needed.
…And above all, you are missed! Rest in Peace little angel.