Here to Stay

Here to Stay

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories of Faith

Here to Stay

Vision is the world’s most desperate need.
There are no hopeless situations, only people who think hopelessly.

~Winifred Newman

Cancer. Even the sound of it gives me chills, and it always has. I always felt bad for those who had it or knew someone who had it, but it never seemed real to me. That is, until sixth grade. Then it became very real, and it changed my life forever.

My best friend James was diagnosed with cancer that year. I was so scared. He found out about it near the beginning of the school year, and he was only given a five percent chance of making it through Christmas. James proved them wrong, though, because he did live through Christmas. In fact, he lived through all of sixth and seventh grade.

Toward the end of seventh grade, James was still receiving some chemotherapy, but he had hair. He no longer wore a hat to hide his baldness, and he was happy. But by the end of June, we were all in tears. He had relapsed.

James fought the disease with all of his might, but it spread to his bone marrow. Three bone-marrow matches were found in the national registry, but James would have to be in remission before the transplant could happen. Unfortunately, in early September, the doctors said that James’s body wasn’t responding to the treatments he was receiving. They started him on a new round of chemo, and we prayed that it would work.

James’s body never did respond to the treatments. That’s when the doctors gave him four to six months to live. When he called me and told me, I started crying. It was the only time that I ever let him hear me cry. He was so strong, though. He told me it was going to be okay. I don’t know how he could have done that, but James was always strong and never let anything get him down, not even cancer.

About a week before Thanksgiving, the doctors gave James a slim chance of making it through the week. I was nervous the whole time, but Thanksgiving came and went, and James was still here.

In mid-December, however, James had a reaction to his platelet injection. He wasn’t expected to make it through the night, but as usual he beat the odds. The doctors were almost sure he would be gone by Christmas, but he stayed with us into the New Year.

After that, he progressively got worse. He was in a lot of pain, and things were not looking good. On January 7th, James passed away. It was the saddest day of my life. I couldn’t sleep for two days. I kept repeating the same thoughts: I will never see him again. I will never hear his voice again. I will never see his smile again.

But I was wrong. That night I was on my bed crying when I heard something.

“Brittany,” a voice said. “Brittany, look up.” The voice was all too familiar. When I looked up, James was sitting on the edge of my bed. He looked the same as he always had, but he was sort of glowing.

“James?” I asked. “Is that you?”

“No,” he said, sarcastically. “It’s Santa Claus. Of course, it’s me.” I laughed, and he smiled. “That’s what I like to see, Brittany. No more tears.”

“But you’re gone,” I told him.

“No, I’m not,” he said. “I’m right here.”

I haven’t seen James since that night, and I know some people think I’m a little nuts when I tell this story, but that’s okay. James gave me the greatest gift that night. So much of what drives me is being afraid of losing—losing my parents, losing my friends and, most of all, losing the love that keeps me going. That night I learned. I experienced firsthand that no matter what, love never leaves us.

~Brittany Lynn Jones

Chicken Soup for the Christian Teenage Soul

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners