By: Grace Doran, IATG ContributorSeptember 13, 2016
There’s a phrase that goes something like, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and loves you anyways.”
When I was younger, I had a lot of friends. I was invited to all of the parties, and every weekend it seemed like I was busy with friends. But after I became ill, I felt like I didn’t belong anymore. Some of the girls I was friends with before made me feel like I didn’t fit in. It was a hard time for me. I wanted to hang out, go to parties, and talk about cute boys just like before. I was still the same person, but my stroke left me without some of my body’s capabilities.
Times like this really showed me who my real friends were.
Even things like a simple field trip at school, which should have been a great time, felt like a betrayal. People didn’t want to sit next to me or be my roommate on an overnight trip. It was really devastating. I wondered if I would have treated someone this way if the circumstances had been reversed.
Despite all of this, I did have those friends who loved me and stayed by my side. I could trust them. They didn’t treat me differently or act as if I was fragile. They’re the people who looked beyond my illness.
One of those friends was a girl named Emily. She was always there with a smile, whether it was to distract me from what I was going through or just to make me laugh. Emily showed me what it was like to be a true friend, and I aspire to be as happy and energetic as she was. She would jump in my wheelchair and ride in my lap. She would make everything seem like a big adventure, even my recovery. Unfortunately, my beautiful friend Emily passed away this summer. I was so heartbroken and felt like I had lost a piece of myself when I first found out, but isn’t that what friendship is, a relationship that becomes a part of you? So when you lose that, it feels like your body is falling apart. Losing a friend was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. But I was so glad to have had twelve years as her friend.
The last thing she wrote to me from her hospital bed was, “I love you and miss you like crazy.” I will never forget the love and friendship she showed me. It’s an honor to have been her friend, and Emily, I love you and miss you like crazy too.
Sometimes it’s hard to understand why things happen, and time can seem too fleeting, so it’s important to remind our friends and family how important they are. Take some today to show your appreciation to the important people in your life.
Gracie has been a competitive dancer since age 7, dancing and training 10 hours a week. Then she had a stroke that paralyzed her. Using her training and determination she was able to learn to walk, talk and eat again. Then, she started to dance again. She has been able to dance in front of thousands of people and has won many awards and recognition for my work.