Sunday, September 6, 2009

One of Those Things

Last week, Haley died.

She was 17 years old.

I didn’t know her well at all. I went to school with her, but she was two grades behind me and while I recognized her when I passed her in the hall, we never once exchanged words. She was the daughter of one of the teachers and heavily involved in dance team, theatre, and the bugle corps.

Then she got sick. I remember that clearly, because her decline was broadcasted around the school by sympathetic media students who featured her in a story and teachers who talked sadly about her situation to concerned kids. We watched as she was left confined to a wheelchair, pulled out of school, lost her motor skill, struggled to speak, was put on a respirator…

Her diagnosis, as I recall, was a long, frustrating, and heartbreaking battle. In the end, it was found that she had ALS—Lou Gehrig’s disease. The “typical” ALS patient is a 50-year-old male. Haley was one of the youngest people ever diagnosed with the illness.

The entire situation was extremely sad. She fought hard and hung on and made it a lot longer than anyone expected her to, considering how quickly her body began to fail her.

When I heard the news via Facebook that Haley had passed away, I was stunned. And then I imagined what it would be like to be her—a girl even younger than myself faced so suddenly and absolutely with mortality. Forced to suffer and fade away at what should have been the rising prime of life. Or what about her mother, dealing with the death of her baby? Such a tragedy. Such a loss. Such a waste.

No religious-philosophical musings can approach a “meaning” behind all of this. It is what it is, I guess. But that doesn't make it fair or easy or right. Que será, será.

But I’m sorry, as we all are when we hear of something so drastically sad. I wish peace and comfort to Haley’s family. And wherever Haley is, I wish her the same.

1 comment:

secret agent woman said...

It's always horribly sad when a young person dies. And, as a parent with a child nearly that age, I am also thinking about her poor, poor parents. No parent should have to bury a child.