Will you bear with me while I tell you a story?
There was a young girl I knew once who loved to be outside. She often climbed trees, rode bikes, and skated until the sun had long since set. She grew up in a relatively quiet neighborhood with close friends on all sides. Though there were many friends her age, her best friend was an elderly lady. They tended flower gardens, raked leaves, planted beautiful trees, and watched entirely too many movies. Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, and Hallmark movies were among their favorites. When the Olympics rolled around, they could be found together watching ice skating and gymnastics. Once, they even pieced together a quilt.
Time passed and the little girl grew. She finished elementary school and entered middle school, encountering people and changes she didn't understand. Occasionally friends would move or fights would cause rifts, but she knew she would always go home and find her best friend waiting. She would share her homework and new favorite books with this friend. Her friend would tell her how life was when she was young - her ambitions, dreams, and experiences...no matter how great or small - and talk all day about her children and grandkids.
One day in eighth grade, this little girl arrived home from school to a message: her best friend had been taken away to live in Florida with her daughter. She was sick.
Life went on. Classes required more work. Friends required more work. Growing up was difficult. She wrote her best friend letters as often as she could, though sometimes avoiding it to simply avoid the sickness.
Her best friend returned home in the middle of her high school years. This little girl had grown and changed. She no longer wanted to be a professional ice skater. She wanted to teach, like her best friend had done. She visited her best friend and walked among her flower gardens a few more times, but found much of her time occupied by homework and activities. Her best friend soon moved to an assisted living home. Her daughters felt like it would be best.
Senior year had come and life was hectic Graduation was flying in fast. The little girl arrived home from school one day to a message: Her best friend had been taken to the hospital. The sickness was back.
In a whirlwind of time, her best friend was put into hospice. The sickness had taken over her body and she would die.
Please hold on until I graduate, the girl prayed. She wrote her best friend letters, telling her that Berry was the college of choice and English would be her major. A trip to Germany was in the works for over the summer as well.
Her best friend didn't make it. She died in late April; one month before the girl would graduate. Devastated, the girl graduated.
That girl was me. My best friend was Alice Cebula who suffered from breast cancer and passed away. To express the impact she had on my life would take years.
Because of her, I Relay.