I am sharing my experience because maybe someone who is going through the feelings of being ostracized for any reason can relate. Additionally, maybe someone who would think twice about reaching out to a friend because of their difference(s) will befriend that person; otherwise, they’d be missing out on the opportunity to meet a true friend. When I do have children, I hope that I am able to instill in my kid the importance of reaching out to someone, even if everyone else turns away from them.
Back in my childhood days, I met my good friend during lunch. As Jessie took a seat off to the side alone, I approached her and that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. Other children steered away from Jessie because they didn’t understand what Cystic Fibrosis was. Moreover, Jessie was extremely frail and precocious which came along with being diagnosed from Cystic Fibrosis. However, not so long after, as our classmates came to learn what Cystic Fibrosis was and who Jessie was, they’ve come to embrace her as well. Jessie was a very kind girl who was knowledgeable beyond her years both in intellect as well as maturity. Even more so, Jessie was a rambunctious, quirky friend who was filled with life and tenacity.
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is not a contagious disease; CF is a syndrome that creates a difficult and painful life for children and adults diagnosed with the ailment. According to Wikipedia, “Cystic Fibrosis (mucoviscidosis) is a common recessive genetic disease which affects the entire body, causing progressive disability and often early death.” CF can be detected during Pregnancy; therefore anyone is able to learn more on the signs.
The onset of the symptoms, such as salty skin and low weight, even with proper nutrition, usually occur early during infancy; furthermore, multitudes of symptoms arise during childhood. Children and adults with CF, find it absolutely challenging to breath due to profusive lung infections causing thick mucous that needs to be expelled habitually as well as shortness of breath. Although Jessie was a tough young girl, she was forced to succumb to the disease, as she would stop at moments during recess to step aside and take a breath. I just stood by her side trying to divert attention away from her, but I wasn’t helping much and probably did the opposite instead. Because of her empathizing nature, Jessie most likely saw through my clumsiness, as we remained great friends.
I recall, coming to school one morning, in mid December, as my friends came to me with the grievous news that Jessie had passed away. Although we all knew Jessie contracted pneumonia and was severely ill the last month of her life as she was stricken at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC); I honestly believed that she would make it through, because I didn’t know any better about the dreadful disease. Therefore, I was distraught because it was the first time I had ever experienced a loss from people who are close to me. Even though, I only got to know Jessie, for three brief months, I still treasure our friendship to this day because getting to know her was the most sincere moments of my life.
Accessed on August 11th, 2011. Wikipedia