"My wish...?" the boy looked up with big curious, blue eyes. He couldn't have been more than eight or nine. He had been staying at the hospital for a while now, and I couldn't help but feel really bad for him. His condition was much worse than mine... and being so young... it was saddening for me to see him attached to the IVs that offered him the saline to keep his body hydrated.
"Yeah, that's right, your wish...."
"I guess... my wish would be... to touch a tiger."
"Touch a tiger...?"
I was slightly shocked at what he had said. I had never really imagined for any kids' wish to just simply 'touch a tiger'. I had also worked at the Capital of Texas Zoo for a while... and over the short period of time that he had asked for that wish, it was that zoo that offered it to him. Unfortunately, I didn't get to witness his joy and happiness that came out of getting to touch Rajah, the white Siberian tiger... I was stuck in the hospital still... receiving my chemo and other medications that accompanied it.
But... I remember getting to talk with the boy and act like something of an older sister to him. His parents had work, as much as they hated leaving his side, and so did mine. I, on the other hand, being the fifteen-year-old that I was, I had okayed for my parents to leave me alone at the hospital so that they could still earn money. They didn't need to worry about me; they all knew that they had raised a fighter, and that's what I continued to be... for their sake, for my friends' sake, and for my own sake.
"Why are you always alone...?" was a question that I remembered him asking me.
I simply smiled at him, "well... it's because I don't mind it, and if I'm alone here in the hospital, it gives me more time to spend with you and the other kids."
"I like it... it makes me feel at least like I'm actually doing something instead of laying in bed all day, waiting for people to take care of me."
"Oh..." he looked up at me with what seemed to be a new found respect for me. I liked it... it kind of made me feel like an older sister to him, what short time I actually got to know him. How it was I got to know him, though, was through my art... something I had always been working on, something I loved. He liked it, so I drew for him as much as I could. It made me happy to be making someone else that was diagnosed with something as scary as cancer happy as well. With younger kids, I understood how this could be scary... I was much older than a lot of the kids that had been diagnosed, and I remember the day that I had been. It was probably the second most scary times in my life, now that I look back upon it.
But... this isn't about me.
I had only gotten to know the boy for about a week before he was out of the hospital to get his Make-A-Wish granted. Before he had actually gone, I remember him crying and saying that he didn't want to go. I could see it... he was afraid. But afraid of what, exactly? There was one real thing that really came to mind -- death.
"Don't worry about it," I smiled to him, trying to comfort him, "listen... don't think too much about the bad things, alright? Promise me that."
"O-okay..." he sniffled.
"As long as you think about the happy things..." I tightened my grip on his hand for a moment, "nothing bad will happen, alright?" and then I was called to leave. I was hesitant about it, but I knew that I couldn't stay with him the whole time... I had my own procedure to be getting to in a while.
I had gotten a call about a day later, someone that worked at the CTZ telling me about how a little boy with cancer came to the zoo and was able to touch Rajah. They sounded happy about it, and it made me smile knowing that the boy that I had gotten to meet was so happy to just have that one wish... that once in a lifetime event be able to be granted.
It wasn't until a week later that I had gotten a visit from my own doctor, Doctor Wells, and he sat down to have a talk with me. He explained to me that he noticed how I seemed to be playing as somewhat of a sibling to the boy and then paused. I was confused, what was going on?
"Well... I... I'm sorry to say that he passed away...."
I was left in my hospital bed... speechless. I didn't know how to deal with death... I was horrible with it, as it had never really come up... ever. Words were choked in my throat, my heart felt heavy and tears were what fell from my eyes. Was this what intense sorrow felt like? And over someone I hadn't even known for a month. Tyler was an acquaintance... one that I enjoyed meeting and getting to spend time with.
I keep those memories of him and the ones that I love close in my mind. We're not all fortunate... and we can't all be. There are times we get that stoke of luck... and I find it lucky that I was able to meet such a nice boy such as Tyler. There was something when getting to spend time with him that made me just a little stronger when staying in the hospital... perhaps it was because he was the only real friend that I could actually sit down with and be able to talk to. Also... in many other ways, he reminded me of my closer friends that I used to go to school with, and it was a joy to have that portrayed.
To touch a tiger... heh.... Something that I, myself, thought was something that was really... unique. And I'm glad that he got to do so.