A cool breeze was blowing gently, making the leaves produce faint rustling sounds on the cold, September night. The rain had started to pound on my bedroom window around eight o’clock, setting the perfect mood for the news I was about to receive. The neighbor children were running about outside, their little hands weighed down by the large buckets they were using to collect the rain. Their bright smiles were as bright as the sun, which made up for her absence from the darkened sky.
All was calm at Ingram Drive.
Inside a relatively small, but cozy home, I, being a stereotypical teenager, was sitting in my bedroom listening to music with my door closed. I was exhausted after finally finishing a useless fifteen hundred word essay on a movie that I didn’t pay attention to. As I was listening to music, I started to become relaxed. That is until my mother called for my sister and I. Sydney stumbled down the stairs with me right behind her and we both sat down in our chairs in the living room.
Of course, I thought, she wants to ask us what we want for dinner. As a thirteen-year-old, I was completely living in my own head, and I never noticed that my mother had a sad look on her face when I saw her. I came to realize that my thoughts were wrong as she began to speak.
“I just got off the phone with Megan,” she said with a gaunt look on her face.
“Hadley was diagnosed with leukemia a few hours ago.”
My head snapped up, as that was not what I had been expecting to hear come out of my mother’s mouth. The entire living room was silent and I could see my sister’s eyes begin to start watering. For a moment, I wasn’t able to process the information. I didn’t really think of it as anything very important. I have always just thought of cancer as a terrible, sad disease that unfortunate people had to suffer with for the majority of their lives. I never really saw cancer as something that was incredibly important for me to know about.
My mother talked to my sister and I about why Hadley went to the hospital in the first place and what Megan had said over the phone. Again, I didn’t really understand anything my mom was talking about, so I didn’t listen to everything she was saying. My sister and I were sent back up to our rooms to ponder over our thoughts. I remember sitting on my bed for about half an hour just thinking about what it really meant for my five-year-old cousin to have leukemia. For the next few hours, I had continued to think about Hadley until I remembered a fictional book about cancer that I had read a few years back.
When I had first read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, I didn’t understand it. Because I was so young, I was never able to grasp what it meant to have cancer. As I was thinking about Hadley, I began to understand her situation, the disease, and what it was like for everyone else around her. As John Green said, “The only thing worse than biting it from cancer is having a kid bite it from cancer.”
Hadley, I thought. My five-year-old cousin, has been diagnosed with a deadly disease that controls every aspect of a people’s lives, and she’s only five years old.
At that moment, as I began to understand the situation better, I started to cry. I didn’t want to lose my little cousin, or even worse, have her suffer immensely before she lost her life. Why did someone so pure and innocent have to live with that?
Now, after a full year-and-a-half, after doing a ton of research and listening in on my mother’s reports from my relatives on Hadley, I completely understood the severity of the murderous disease. Just from Hadley’s condition alone, I learned numerous lessons just from listening in on her life. One of the most important lessons I learned from Hadley was that I needed to connect with the people around me more, because I never know when something bad could happen. I, or someone very close to me, could die randomly and I would’ve felt guilty about not being with them during their final days. The connections that you make with others are more the most important things in life.