It was 8:30 a.m. and the doctor slowly and cautiously walked into the waiting room. She had a look on her face like none that I have seen before, she hugged my best friend Justin, then his dad, then his sister. Then the doctor, very hesitant to speak, uttered the words "I am so very sorry." It is a scene that will always be burned in my memory, for it was that very day January 6th, that my best friends mother passed away.

Let me start from the beginning, I was barely 12 years old when I had moved to the quiet town of Olathe, Kansas. I hadn't a friend in the world, and god knows that times were rough. My father, a stout German man, was an alcoholic. He very much had a problem with abusing his children, namely myself. My mother was the shy type, and would often find herself leaving the room when the abuse started, never willing to put a stop to it, never willing to stand up to what was right. My brother, two and a half years younger than me, would also face such persecution from our father. Lets face it we sure as hell weren't your normal American family, but somehow my father easily made it appear that we were. Weekend barbecues, and pool parties, everything seemed normal, everything seemed right. But when you looked past the outer shell and into the shadows...

One Sunday at our new church, a guy came up to me and introduced himself. "Hey what’s up? I'm Justin." He was 15 at the time, and was quite an outgoing person. He had a very loud personality, and wasn't the type who ever got bored with life. His father was the calm and caring type, and his mother so very naive and overly caring even to complete strangers. This family was genuinely caring and loving to people, and I very much enjoyed their company. I hadn't become "good" friends with Justin until we started home schooling at the same time. At that point we were the best of friends. We found ourselves skipping our schoolwork to go out and skateboard, or take his jeep(a construction-colored orange cj-7) out and about where ever there was mud to be found. We would always have a blast no matter what we did.

Now I was 16, and things at home were getting worse. I found myself in circumstances that were life threatening, and often would run away. I started to heavily rely on pot,(or marijuana, to those of you who aren't savvy like that) and alcohol. Justin somehow was always by my side, helping me get through life, helping me survive my dad, and myself. He was there when I lost everything, and he was there to help me get everything back. He was an especially good friend when I got engaged, and an even better friend when the engagement went sour. I was only 16 going on 17 after all.

Life was getting harder, and more depressing. Prior to my engagement my mother had tried to commit suicide, and spent weeks in the hospital. My father grew more bitter, and more manipulative and abusive. I was finally getting to the breaking point, and found I had quite a problem with cutting my arms up with knives. The scars are still there and still very real. Although I never revealed this problem to Justin or anybody, I'm sure he would've talked some sense into me like he always did. My parents marriage was getting worse, but the abuse subsided for a short while.

Just into the year 2000, my grandfather passed away from cancer. My parents, still together at that point, were very fake when they were around people. They would make believe everything to be okay. Then a week after my grandfather had died, my parents split. I was devastated, and overwhelmed, and weak. My friendship with Justin grew at this point, as it did with his family. I couldn't even tell you who I was living with half of the time, nor did I care. Neither or my parents wanted me, and I often found myself homeless. But I always knew that Justin and his family were there for me, I was their "son". They helped me through my rough times, and were there no matter what kinds of stupid stuff I did. 2000 was the worst year of my life, I had broken off my engagement, I had lost my family, I had lost my grandfather, and I had lost my childhood. But it was also the best year, because I gained a family, a great family at that.

I grew closer to their family, and it helped me through life. But then, things took a turn for the worse. During the summer/early fall of 2000, Justin’s mother had been diagnosed with cancer. It was breast cancer, but had spread throughout her body. I knew that now was my chance to return the kindness they had shown me. I was in it for the long haul, and did many things to help them out. I would often accompany her and Justin on hospital visits, and found myself helping around the house. Then Monday January 1st, she went into the hospital with a fever. The whole week had been stressful, and they found out she had pneumonia. Friday January 5th, I decided Justin needed some time away from the hospital to calm his nerves, so Justin and I had gone out that night. When we returned to his house, we found a note that said her breathing had decreased and she had become unconscious. We rushed to K.U. Medical Center, a hospital downtown, and ran to the waiting room. They were relieved that I had brought Justin to them. Justin told me that if I wanted to leave I could, to which I kindly replied "Hell no I am not going to leave! That’s just ridiculous, I'm going to stay." He just smiled and said "good.".

That night was the longest night of my life, and I think anybody who has ever tried to sleep in a hospital would understand where I am coming from. We spent the night wandering the halls, the lobby, the cafeteria, just goofing off trying to keep our minds off of the obvious situation that was happening. At 7 o'clock in the morning we retired to the waiting room. One of the benches was free so I took a pillow and fell fast asleep. When I awoke, it was 8:30 a.m. and the doctor slowly and cautiously walked into the waiting room. She had a look on her face like none that I have seen before, she hugged my best friend Justin, then his dad, then his sister. Then the doctor, very hesitant to speak, uttered the words "I am so very sorry." It is a scene that will always be burned in my memory, for it was that very day January 6th, at 8:27 a.m., that my best friends mother passed away.

I thank god that they had taken me in as a member of their family. It saved my life, I just wish my love could have saved hers. I will never forget this woman, and felt compelled to share this with the E2 community. My heart goes out to anybody who has lost somebody they love to cancer.

Cherise M. Wall November 13, 1954 - January 6, 2001

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