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Erin By: Julia Smith

My story is simple. Girl meets girl. Girls become best friends. Girl gets sick. Girl loses girl forever. I know this story line sounds tragic, and it is, but it’s so much more. My best friend in the whole wide world was Erin Smith.

This girl was everything I wanted to be. She was wise beyond her years. She was courageous. She was selfless. But most of all she was a great friend. Erin’s story begins on her fourth birthday. And her gift? A diagnosis. When Erin turned four years old she was diagnosed with stage four, Neuroblastoma (cancer). The doctor’s predictions: dead by age 5. But no, Erin was a fighter. She survived past their deadlines each and every time, until she couldn’t fight anymore.

Erin died at age 11 on June 14, 2005. To many her death evokes a terrible sadness, which is true. Why anyone so good deserved to die such a slow and painful death I will never know. But Erin’s death also brings inspiration to many of the lives she has touched. Personally, my life would have been meaningless without her. She taught me so much about life I never could have learned without her. She taught me how to face my fears, while watching her face needle after needle and every painful procedure after another. Now this might not seem like such a big deal to the average adult, but remember she was four. The next scariest thing at that age is the boogie monster and I’m sure if she had to, she’d battle him too.

She taught me about patience. I remember waiting in the hospital with her every Tuesday while she got chemotherapy. The worst was the waiting to get hydrated and then the waiting to get dehydrated; or the waiting during a remission for it to come back. She was patient and she was hopeful. While everyone else would pace back and forth she was just Erin, a normal little girl. Not the dying girl, but the everyday four year old who loved playing with dolls and drawing pictures.

But most of all she taught me that everything in life is not fair, but that’s life and there’s nothing we can do about it. When Erin was nearing the end she felt it. She knew it was coming and instead of being angry like most of us would be, she accepted her fate. She didn’t try to attach meaning, but prepared for it like anyone else did. So at 11 years old my best friend in the world wrote her will. She made a list of what she wanted people to have of hers after she was gone. Her death taught me what grief was and at 11 I didn’t think life could get much worse, but following her example I tried to move on with life.

Today I can say the pain has subsided and it is bittersweet. It’s nice being able to laugh and enjoy life again, but it means I’m not thinking of her as much and I am starting to forget. Forget her smile, laugh, voice and I don’t know what is worse. I already lost her. I don’t want to lose her memory too, which is why I write. I want to become a writer. Always have. I want to keep her memory through my words. By writing Erin’s story, she can touch lives and continue to live in people’s memory throughout the world. Like I said, without Erin my life would be meaningless. My purpose is to tell her story and that’s what I plan on doing. Although Erin’s death was tragic but her life shouldn’t be mourned, but celebrated. She lived and she was a great person. People need to hear that and I’m going to tell them.

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