“Why? Why? Why to Braden? Why to him? What did he do to deserve this?” my mind screams in anger at the information shared with me. Tears well in my eyes while contemplating the viciously, ugly word of cancer!
Looking back at my life, I have lost someone I care about the most: my cousin. I believe that the people I care about the most are taken from me too soon. My built-in best friend and the brother I never had was taken from my family and me right before our eyes.
I remember leaving school early. It was a sunny day and my teacher got a call and she said, “Greta, please pack your bag and you may go to your mom’s classroom.”
I walked down to my mom’s classroom and she said we are going to your cousin’s. As confused as I was, I only remember Braden being sick in the hospital a couple nights before.
The car was silent until my mom said, “Braden is very sick and is dying.” My heart sank and my brain was going everywhere and thinking like crazy, “Why is this happening? Why to Braden?”
Walking up to my aunt and uncle’s door felt like walking in a desert, scared to walk in knowing this was the last time I would see him. As soon as we walked in, my family was all sitting there. Most people were upstairs with Braden. My grandma gave me a hug right when I walked in.
We walked upstairs only to see Braden laying on the bed. The only thing I remember my aunt saying to me is, “He isn’t sleeping and his eyes are just like that. He can still see and hear you.”
I walked over to Braden and said my last goodbyes. Braden responded with, “Goodbye, I love you.”
I walked back downstairs to everyone else because it was time to bring Braden to the hospital. Everyone else just waited at my aunt and uncle’s house. Kristin, Braden’s mom, texted us and said we could go home because they were staying overnight at the Ronald McDonald house. (Today, all elementary schools of New Prague collect pop tabs for families like Braden’s to stay at the hospital while their child is sick at the hospital.) It was pretty late when we got home, I tried to fall asleep but I couldn’t, knowing that I had an angel watching over me now.
The next day I found out I got to skip a couple days of school, because of the wake and funeral. The cars for the funeral were lined up miles down the road and the cars wouldn’t stop coming. In spite of the funeral being long, my family was there to make everything better. Going back to school after that was weird and was slowly drifting away minute by minute. Although I had some therapy dogs, with a teacher named Mrs. Hennen, nothing could fix the fact that Braden was gone. She helped me tremendously, along with my cousins.
Family gatherings didn’t feel normal and still never will. It was actually what stopped that felt abnormal such as not hearing his laugh, not going to the hospital, and not skipping religion to go to a hockey game. I´ve come to realize, I miss the “nots.”
My cousins and I went to a day camp called Camp Oz. It’s a camp for kids to go for losing a close one. It has many activities throughout the day and also time for talking about our loved ones. We go every year now for Braden. We also go to Wisconsin to a place called Faith’s Lodge where your whole family can stay for a couple days. For example, it’s like a hotel, but not. It has many rooms, rooms for families to sleep in, a library and a movie room. It has four levels. It’s a place my family and I go each year for Braden. The rooms also have names for little kids who have also passed.
We also get t-shirts for Braden each year. We do all this just to feel his presence. Just because he had to go doesn’t mean he still isn’t with me. Looking back, I have lost the people I care about the most, but they will always have a special place in my heart and will always stick with me. Did cancer win in this situation? Yes, but not to my family. We stuck with Braden through his rough times and tried to make them better, no matter the pain. We still celebrate Braden and live through his presence.