A story of faith, hope, and love.
|You know that one commercial? The one with the really sad song? Yeah, you know the one. Well, about a month ago, I was one of those people watching those commercials. I never thought that I could be one of those unfortunate children in the hospital with no hope for a cure.
Just one month ago, I was a normal teenage girl. Just me against the world. Then, the next thing I knew, I started feeling these strange pains in my chest. It felt like needles were being shot into my heart. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to tell my mom for fear of getting in trouble. So I just went on with my life like nothing was even wrong. I went to school, but I didn’t pay attention. I went out to lunch with my friends, but I didn’t eat. I continued to play soccer, but only because I couldn’t sit out like I did everything else. I had to play. If I didn’t, the coach would yell at me to run laps. So I played. That’s when the pain was worse. When I played.
My friends started to get suspicious of me when I started to lose weight. I looked like a skeleton, but I couldn't help it. Whatever I ate, I later threw up. My condition, whatever it was, was getting worse. My mom thought I was getting sick. My teachers were concerned about my grades. My coach was just ticked off, and he told me through actions, not words. I ran laps, drills, and whatever else he could think of. By running, I lost even more weight. I was weak, and all the bullies told me so.
They called me Bones. Jack Skellington. Emo. Anorexic. Everything. They threw things at me. Like bottles of fake pills and fake razor blades. The girls would sometimes even corner me and beat me up, but only where my clothes covered. I had bruises everywhere.
The pains got even worse. Then came the day when my life changed forever. I had a soccer game that day. A big one. It was the state championship, so everything was on the line. I was a starter, a center forward. So I played the whole game. The first half was fine. Then, during the second half, I began to get hot flashes. I got dizzy and lightheaded. I tried to run it off, but it only got worse. My chest and head hurt and my vision was blurry. Then, as I ran, my legs gave out and I came crashing down. I went rolling on the field. I tried to get up, but my vision started fading. Then, I passed out.
I occasionally would drift in and out of consciousness. Hearing “We’ll run some tests to make sure.” and “I’m so sorry Ms. McCutcheon, but she has…” and then I would pass out again. When I finally awoke, my mom was there. I said in a scratchy voice, “Mom?” She quickly put down the book she was reading and rushed to my side. “Sierra! Are you okay? Does anything hurt? Do you need anything?” I looked up into her eyes and saw that they were red from crying and her face had lines caused from stress. I don’t know why I saw those details but I did. I shook my head and said, “I’m fine, Mom.” She started crying again and said, “If only you were.” I was about to ask what she meant when the doctor walked in.
“Ah, Sierra. I see that you're awake now. I would like to discuss something with you and your mother now if that’s alright?” I only nodded. You know when you're really scared and your stomach gets ice cold and feels like a rock just dropped into it? Well, I had that now.
“After we ran some tests, we checked the results to see what was wrong with you. And after some close inspection, we have found that there are cancerous cells in your body. You have a tumor on your heart, Sierra. I’m sorry Sierra, but, you have cancer. It has already progressed and we have calculated that you have about two months to live so I would suggest that you take this precious time and spend it with your loved ones.”
I did not even know what to say to that. So many thoughts were racing through my head at that moment. I have cancer?! But how? I never did anything wrong! I was never a bad person! I always turned the other cheek! I have always believed in God! I have always prayed! So how could this be happening to me? I did not even realize that I was crying. I was too busy staring in shock at the doctor. All I could say were two, quiet words. “Get out”,
My mom tried to scold me through her tears but was unable to get through to me. It was like I had locked all my emotions up in a safe that was kept in the back of my mind. The only thing I could feel was the gut wrenching terror behind his words. I feared for my life. I could hear what everyone was saying but it all sounded like they were talking underwater. I turned to my mother and asked if we could go home. She nodded.
We left the hospital and returned home. My mom called my dad, her ex-husband, and told him the news. The phone call ended with her screaming into the phone saying, “How was I supposed to know that she had cancer? I’m not God! It’s not my fault that she’s dying!” There was silence, then she shouted once more, “I hate you John! Why did I ever marry you in the first place?” Then she slammed the phone into the receiver and ran to her room, sobbing as she went. I did not go after her, I should have, but I couldn't. I was too numb, too cold. I felt glued in place.
A few days went by and the bullying got worse. I told my friends of my cancer and they all cried. All the teachers looked at me with pity. My coach kicked me off the team. And I was avoided by everyone but my friends. My principal could not even look at me. I soon was depressed. I was not eating or sleeping. Then, I turned to cutting. It felt good to finally feel something again. Even if it was pain. I still felt something. One day, I was in the school bathroom, sobbing. I had just pulled out the blade when I heard a voice call out.
“Hello? Are you okay in there?”
I replied in a weak voice. “What do you want?” The owner of the voice walked into the bathroom. I saw a pair of black converses. Guy’s converses. The kid spoke again.
“Hey, where’re you at? I’m Jason. What’s your name?” I slowly opened the stall door and poked my head out to look at him.
“I’m Sierra.” He offered me a small smile and stepped closer. I took a step away from him as I flinched.
“Oh I’m sorry Sierra. I didn't mean to scare you. I just wanted to see what was wrong.” He looked down and his eyes softened. I looked down too and saw that my hand had dropped and he could now see the blade. I quickly held it behind my back and looked away. My tears came faster now. My crying had turned to sobbing. I gasped quietly as I cried. Jason quietly walked up to me, took the blade from me, and dropping it, gave me a big, warm, and gentle embrace. I cried even harder now and he tightened his grasp on me. “Hey, what’s happened? What’s wrong?” he asks. I turn my head into his shoulder and see a small, silver cross hanging from his neck.
“I have c-cancer. I only have a month to live,” I cry. I start crying again and he shushes me, trying to calm me. I finally calm down enough for him to loosen his hold on me. He kisses my forehead and it burns my skin slightly. It was weird. He begins to speak again.
“It’ll be okay. Trust me. You will be fine. Do you believe in God? Or Angels?” I nod slowly, confused as to where he is going with this. “Well, I heard that if you pray to God and the Angels, then they can help you. But you have to have hope and faith. Do you have hope and faith?”
“I have faith but I don’t have hope. there is no hope for someone like me.”
“Oh yes there is. There is hope for everyone. Especially for those in need. Hope is just like love; you may not be able to see it, but it is always there, growing in you and in others. I want you to do something for me tonight. I want you to pray tonight. Pray for forgiveness. Pray for strength in doing what is right. And pray for healing so that you can live to see a difference in the world. Because believe me when I say this, there will be a difference in this world. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow. But someday, there will be a difference and it could be a difference made by one person named Sierra. I know that you were destined to do great things one day. you just have to believe that yourself. But until you do, just keep praying. Sometimes, all we can do is pray. I will leave you with those words to ponder. Good bye Sierra McCutcheon.”
“Wait! How do you know my name? And what is your last name? I never got it.”
“My name is Jason Luella. And you will have to wait and see in order to find out how I know your name. Good bye”. I closed my eyes for a second and when I opened them, he was gone.
Later, on my way home, I stopped by the church. It wasn’t a Mass day, but I knew that the priest was there. He always was there. I opened the door and walked inside. I sat at a pew and started praying for strength, and healing. Then, when I made the sign of the cross, I looked up to see the priest sitting in front of me.
“Father Michael, I was wondering if I could confess my sins to you and ask for forgiveness from God.”
“Of course you can” he said. After I confessed my sins and said my penance, I walked home. That night, I didn’t cut. I ate food, and kept it down. And that night I got a full nights rest. The next night, I prayed just as hard. I even prayed for others in need. Every day, I started to feel a little better. Then, one day, as I’m praying, this song comes to mind. The song, Oh My Lord. One particular line stuck out for me. Pray hard, but pray with care, for these tears you are crying now, are just your answered prayers.
At school the next day, I saw Jason again. I talked to him about how I have been praying. He smiles and hugs me. His hug brings me warmth. I smile at him too.
“I have a doctor appointment tomorrow. They want to see me to check out the cancer and see if it has progressed or not.”
“Don’t worry Sierra, everything will be fine. Trust me.” I nod and smile. He gets this faraway look then says, “I must leave tomorrow. I’m afraid this will be good bye. I am going back home.”
“Where are you going? Where is home?”
“Very far away, I’m afraid.”
“Will you at least walk me home?” I say. He nods.
After school, we meet up and begin to walk. He grabs my hand and gives it a little squeeze. I smile in return. Soon enough, I’m home. I let go of his hand to grab my keys and unlock the door. As I turn away, he says in a low, quiet voice, “I’m so glad we met. I will miss you greatly. It has been an honor to help you.” I turned just in time for his lips to meet with mine. And for a moment I felt like I was in Heaven. I felt like I was flying through the air. I felt light as a feather. I closed my eyes. When we finally parted, he whispered, “Goodbye Sierra.” I felt a slight breeze blow past me. When I opened my eyes, he was gone. A single tear rolled down my cheek.
The next day, I rose early and rode with my mom to the hospital. A very friendly nurse walked in to do my testing for today.
“Hello Sierra, I’m Mrs. Mary. I’m here to administer your tests today.” After the tests were done, and Mrs. Mary finally got the results back, almost the entire day had gone past. When Mrs. Mary walked in, she had a disbelieving look on her face. "I can't believe this but your cancer is completely gone. It's a miracle. God must have sent a guardian angel to watch over you because the cancer is completely gone. You're going to be alright."
Just then, a doctor came in saying, “Nurse Luella, you’re needed in room 204.”
“Wait!” I call out. “Nurse Luella? Do you have a son? About my age?” She got a really sad look on her face and I knew I had said the wrong thing.
“No, I don’t. Not anymore. He died three years ago. His name was--”
“Jason Luella?” I interrupt. She looks up with wide eyes.