The best day of the week is Thursday. Some people will try to convince you that Friday is better, but don’t let them fool you. Thursdays are definitely the best. I understand you might have doubts because I’m only ten years old, but trust me, I know. I never realized how awesome the fourth day of the week could be until about two years ago. I met Danny on a Thursday, and my life was never the same after that. Wait, before I go any further, let me introduce myself.
My name is Addison, but all my friends call me Addy. Like I mentioned before, I am ten years old. I have two of the most awesome parents in the world, and I love horses. My favorite color is purple, well sometimes it’s red, and I don’t mind school at all. Most kids my age can’t stand going to school, but I’m different. I like to learn as much as I possibly can. My dad said the more knowledge I have, the better off in life I will be. Mom tends to agree with him. Ever since I can remember, I have always been curious about everything.
I didn’t sleep well last night. I guess that’s to be expected, though, since I have so much on my mind. The one thing that kept me going through the night was knowing that the morning would come, and it was Thursday. Danny will be here in about twenty minutes. I am so excited. I drew him an epic picture of a horse out in the middle of a field. It’s right as dawn is breaking, and the sun is slowly creeping towards the blue sky. The horse is standing just at the edge of darkened woods, saddled, but there is no rider in sight. I’m leaving it to the imagination as to what may have happened.
I like to do that. I draw stuff all the time, but it’s never truly complete. An imagination is one of the most amazing things we could ever have been given. When I’m scared or feel alone, I go deep into my imagination and picture myself riding horses with all my friends. When I close my eyes, it all feels so real.
Danny is late, and I don’t know why. In two years, he has never been late. I’ve learned a lot about Danny since I met him that first day. I know he volunteers with the fire department, likes to play softball, and goes to church. The biggest thing we have in common is the love of horses. He has several horses on his ranch, and he promised me that one day we would go horseback riding. He and my dad are friends too. They have spent a lot of time together lately.
“Miss Cindy, have you seen Danny?”
Cindy Stepford walks over with a big smile. “Hi, Addy. I haven’t seem him yet this morning. How are you feeling?”
“I’m okay, just worried about Danny. He’s never late.”
“I’m sure he’s fine, Honey. Would you like me to check and see if I can find out where he is?”
I nod and attempt to smile, but I fail horribly. As I watch Cindy walk away, a sadness, that I can’t explain, begins to fill my heart. I can’t shake this feeling of dread. I push the button on my bed and wait patiently as it rises to a full sitting position. I can’t quite see the entire nurses area where the desk is. I see Cindy talking on the phone, and she appears concerned. That can’t be good. She hangs up and waves at someone out of my line of sight.
To my surprise, I see both of my parents walk up to Cindy. They talk for several seconds, and then Daddy glances over at me. I see the look inside his eyes, and my heart drops. Something must be terribly wrong. I motion for them to come into my room. They both enter and give me a kiss on the forehead. No one talks for at least a full minute. Daddy unconsciously tugs at the badge hanging from his neck. Below his picture, it reads Visitor. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is stamped below that.
I have cancer. I won’t go into all the medical terms or explanations that will most likely leave you even more confused as to what my condition is. They don’t know it, but I overheard my parents talking with Dr. Morris the other day. According to him, I have six months to live, maybe less. I know what you’re thinking. How can a ten year old handle something this horrific? Well, to be honest, I don’t know. Am I scared? Of course, but I still believe in the hope that the awesome people here will find a cure for me. They haven’t given up. Why should I?
I’ve experienced the stinging taste of death as some of my closest friends here lost their battles. I guess that’s what makes me more mature than what my age would dictate. I’ve seen pain, fear, despair, and hope in it’s rawest forms. I’ve learned to accept the cards that life dealt me, but to also press forward and never give up hope. I want to live again. I want to experience life outside of a hospital bed, like I did two years ago.
Sometimes I see a look of failure on my parent’s faces, and I know I have to be strong for them. I don’t let them see me cry. I only do that when I’m alone at night. They have shed so many tears of their own. They don’t need to hurt through mine as well.
“Daddy, what’s going on? Where’s Danny?”
Daddy looks up with glistening eyes. “Sweetie, Danny won’t be able to visit you today.”
I glance over at Mom, but she doesn’t look up. “What happened? Is he okay?”
“His wife and daughter were involved in a terrible car accident this morning. His wife didn’t make it, and their daughter is in ICU. She is on life support.”
I swallowed a swell of emotions that threatened to overtake me. Tears formed in my eyes, but I fought them back. I had to be strong. I had only met Danny’s family twice over the two year span I had been here at St. Jude. He told me they were uncomfortable visiting the hospital, and I could completely understand that. “Is she going to die?”
“She needs a heart transplant, Sweetie. They are trying to get her pushed to the front of the list, but there are no guarantees. They don’t have much time, so it’s not looking too good right now.”
“Danny’s daughter,” I say. “How old is she?”
Two years ago, the driver of my school bus had a brain aneurysm, drifted off the road and slammed us into a tree, causing the bus to flip over. The gas tank exploded and the entire vehicle caught on fire. Most of the kids were able to escape out the back except for me and one other boy. The bolts, from the seat we were sitting on, had snapped, and the bench fell over, trapping us both inside the bus. A piece of metal had come up from underneath and pierced my back, causing me to be paralyzed from the waist down. As people screamed and the flames grew closer, I squeezed the boy’s hand and tried to stay strong for the both of us.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a fireman appeared over us. I remember the look of concern in his eyes, but also one of determination. At that point, I was nearing unconsciousness, but I remember him taking my hand and saying everything was going to be alright. The screams faded as I drifted off into darkness. I awoke in the hospital and couldn’t feel anything. The doctor said I was lucky, and if the fireman had been even a minute or two later, the boy and I would have died. It was during my stay at the hospital that the doctor found something on one of my test results, and we learned I had cancer.
I ask “What is her blood type?”
My mother drops her head and bursts into sobs. Daddy jumps up and stands by my bed. He shakes his head as tears begin to stream down his face. “No. You can’t- I won’t-”
“Dad, it’s okay. I overheard you guys talking with Dr. Morris. I know I don’t have much time. The tumor is spreading through my brain. I can feel it sometimes, and I know it’s only a matter of time before I won’t be able to speak or remember anything. This is my chance, my one chance, to make a difference in someone’s life.”
“But they might find a cure. We can’t give up hope. You might not even be a match.”
“Then let’s find out.”
While Mom and Dad stand over my bed and cry, I slowly begin to fall asleep. I hope they talk to Dr. Morris and see if my heart would be compatible with Danny’s daughter. I have come to accept the fact that I don’t have much time left on this earth. I won’t go to college. I won’t fall in love. I won’t get married and have children. I hope my parents somehow find a way to go on once I’m gone. If my heart can help save another little girl, then my life will have served a purpose.
It’s a Thursday night, and Danny Johnson sits on his couch in the living room. The steady crackle from the fireplace nearly puts him to sleep. On the mantle sits a picture of a horse standing just at the edge of darkened woods, saddled, but the rider is no where in sight. He smiles through his tears as he realizes he never figured that one out.
He was off duty the day he happened upon the school bus accident. It was complete chaos with screaming children and onlookers who had stopped, but were afraid to approach the burning vehicle. Without hesitation, he donned his gear and rushed into the flames once he learned there were still students on board. The driver was already dead, but he was able to rescue the boy and girl trapped under the bench. It was a just another Thursday, but he had been on his way to their cabin forty miles outside of town. A full bottle of whiskey and a loaded .45 were going to erase the pain of the broken marriage he had been trying to piece back together.
When he rescued Addy, he once again found the hope he had given up on. His life was never the same after that day.
Danny looks down into the eyes of his daughter. Addy’s heart beats steadily inside her chest. The little girl he saved on that fateful Thursday afternoon, returned the favor by not only saving his daughter’s life, but his as well.
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