This I Believe

Aneill - Washoe Valley, Nevada
Entered on November 27, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Heroes Come in Small Packages

When you hear the word hero, what is the first thing that you see? The first thing that pops in my mind is a superhero, and I bet many of you would agree that the first thing that pops up in your head is a superhero, a firefighter, family, or a best friend. But what I have come to find over the last years is that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. The definition of a hero is a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. This definition doesn’t mention a flying superhero or even a firefighter rescuing a cat from a tree.

Towards the end of last year I worked at an elementary school’s latch key program. Here I meet a lot of little kids, most of them in the third and fifth grade. However, there was one little second grader that stood out to me. She always did what she was told to, cleaned up, and even helped out without having to be asked. This is very weird for a little kid, especially a second grader. This little girl’s name was Katie. Over the last couple months Katie and I bonded. She became an image of what I would want as a little sister. But than for about a month Katie didn’t show up to latch key. I got a feeling that something terrible had happened.

It turned out, that the month Katie was gone, she was diagnosed with cancer. Katie had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. I couldn’t believe that my little Katie had cancer. A month passed from when I had received the news, and then one morning my phone rang. “Hello,” I answered.

“Hi, Aneill?” the voice was shaky.

“Yes, this is her,” I answered.

“Hi, Aneill. This is Katie’s mom. I was wandering if you would be willing to teach Katie how to ride a horse?”

“Yes, but why?”

“Katie had a wish granted.” I heard the tears starting to stream down her face.

“Yes I will, is Saturday ok?”

“It’s fine.”

The phone clicked. The conversation was over.

Saturday came very fast. The next thing I knew I was standing next to Katie and her mom and mine were talking. I heard my mom whisper, “How long?” I gave my mom a look crossed with shock and anger. To my surprise Katie heard it too. “They say I probably won’t live past sixth grade.” Katie must have seen the shock and tears starting to fall down my cheeks. “It’s ok, I know that I’m not going to live long but, I’m alive now and that’s all that matters. I’m going to live my life with no regret.” At that very moment the little girl looking up at me became my hero.

Katie had become my hero not because she could fly, but because she reminded me that life is too short, we need to stop and smell the roses, to live your life in a way that you will not regret when you’re gone, and she could look me in the eye and tell me she knew she was going to die. To me, she fits the definition of a hero perfectly.