Best Friends Forever
By Madison Packer
I have been thinking about what to write since I was asked. I don’t want cancer to define Jane or my relationship with her. The memory picture that came up on my mom’s Facebook page the other day was a picture of our teacher, Mrs. Smith, and I at an Alex’s Lemonade stand back in second grade. It was something we did to help fight for Jane since the money went to help find a cure for childhood cancer. I remember the day; we were in the park when a lot of bikers were there. It was a chance to tell people about my friend Jane and show support for “TEAM JANE” (or should I say – Mrs. Smith talked about Jane and I just smiled and shook my head in agreement.)
My mother and I sat down to eat when a man asked if he could join us. He asked me all about Jane. I talked to him about her and he proceeded to tell us about another girl that had a bone marrow transplant and was then in her 20’s and doing well. I was happy to talk to him about my friend and he encouraged us to keep our faith and keep praying. Mom always thought he was an angel sent to help us keep believing and encourage me.
Our friendship started before Jane ever had cancer. We seemed to just fit and enjoy being together. Jane was a lot of fun, full of spark, and accepted everyone for who they were. We liked a lot of similar things and enjoyed laughing and giggling like all young girls. I invited her to my AWANA club at church. This became our weekly activity together out of school. We also did some playdates and birthday parties.
When she got sick, my mother took me to Children’s Hospital many times to visit her. I remember we did activities they had there together like tap dance class, dog visits, outings (when she was allowed and felt up to it), or just hung out together. It really didn’t matter what we did as long as we had time together. She tried to teach me how to make a duct tape purse, but mine needed some help. Jane took one look at it, shook her head, and asked for the packing tape. She proceeded to try and fix it, but it still had some flaws. It didn’t matter to us, so we took our new purses and headed to McDonalds for lunch!
The last time I went down for a visit, she already knew she was coming home under Hospice. She had asked my mom to bring me to the hospital one more time. She really wanted to have one more outing together. She was not feeling the best, but insisted we make a trip to the mall. We went shopping at the “Justice” store for look-alike shirts, and exchanged BFF gifts. It was hard, but also good at the same time. She wanted to live each day her way!
When I think back to all the memories we shared, it makes me smile. Jane will always be part of my life in a good way. She showed me how she didn’t let cancer define who she was or how she lived. I went to grief camp twice over the next couple of years after she passed. I was able to realize that each relationship has meaning and is “special”. We should never take anything or anyone for granted. We should continue to live each day, enjoy those around us, cherish our memories and carry them in our hearts forever.
I don’t know what Jane and my relationship would have been today. I can only imagine our friendship would have continued to grow. I had a couple of vivid dreams about us shortly after she passed. The first dream was me visiting her in heaven. It was beautiful! We played together and I remember the colors were so much brighter. The best part was that there were rainbows! (I always drew rainbows in the pictures and cards I gave to Jane.) In the second dream, Jane came here and played with me at Sunnybrook Park. She was happy and full of energy. We had a great time in both dreams. I thank God for these special dreams. I normally don’t remember my dreams, especially when I was that young. I was able to tell my mom about both of them. I think God gave me those dreams to help me realize two things. First, that Jane is in a beautiful place and healed (just like I had prayed for). Second, that I should have peace about where Jane is and carry our friendship and memories with me forever. Best Friends Forever it is!
About the Author: Madison Packer is a senior at Wadena Deer Creek this fall. She became friends with Jane in first grade. Madison is active in tennis, basketball, track, band/ choir, NHS and church activities. Future plans include college to study exercise science and possibly physical therapy.