She was just ten years old when leukemia had robbed her of her life. Anna was one of my best friends from my kindergarten days. Growing up together, we were almost like twins. One day, during playtime at school, she began to have a nosebleed, all of a sudden. We didn’t give it much thought. But, two more episodes had happened at home, which is when her mother took her to the family doctor. Leukemia is what he had said. “A type of blood cancer. She had more of an acute type, ALL type is what he had told and something about Philadelphia. It all made no sense to me. Chemotherapy was the answer. Bone transplant was an explorable option but not necessarily hundred percent successful .
I was stunned for words when she broke the news to me. I still remember the day. It was raining heavily and we were holed up in the tree house at her place- our secret den. I was too shocked to cry. She sat there waiting to see my response. I had none. I was speechless for words. Then we both just cried, not bawling but silent tears. And I promised her that she was not alone in this battle but we are in it together.
She started her chemotherapy within a week’s time. Initially I used to stay with her at the hospital. We used to talk for hours, read to her, or simply listen to music. Slowly her sessions started to increase in duration and her doctor felt it was better if she was shifted to a more intensive therapy course. This meant longer stay at the hospital. Slowly, she started having the side-effects of the medication, loosing her hair, eating less and she slowly began to feel too tired to even sit up. I cried when I saw how frail and tiny she became. But she never stopped smiling. She loved to sketch while sitting by the window side. I used to come daily to see her. She used to tell how scared she was feeling, but somehow she found the courage to move on.
One year had passed. She had initially responded to all the chemo, but then she relapsed back , more worse than before. She knew it was time to say goodbye, we all knew it too, I guess.The chemo drugs were getting stronger and no longer were acting on her. She never got angry or grumbled about it. She always had a smile for everyone who came to see her.
She came back home. Her room was looked like the one in the hospital . She still took her meds. And, she never lost her faith in life. She made this list of things she wanted to do. Getting her nose pierced, dyeing her hair blue ( i had got her a blue wig instead), recording her own song…We even went to Disneyland one last time.Autumn came. She was deteriorating too fast. That Christmas was her last, and the best one too. She died before New Year, just a week short of her tenth birthday.
It was difficult for me to face the fact that she was gone forever. The seat next to me in school was unoccupied for days. I had almost become a loner. Then my parents felt it was time for all of us to move on. We relocated within a year of her passing away. It took me a long time to adjust to my new school and an even longer time to make friends.
A year later, at her first memorial, I realised that Anna had taught me the first thing about life- to embrace it completely, to live each day as your last and to make the best of what you have and what you got. She lived her life to the fullest, achieved whatever her dreams were in the short span of time she had. Memories is what she with took with her till the end. But what she gave me was awesome, the optimism of life. Till this day, she will stay the best friend of my life. And we ll meet again someday, for eternity.