Don’t Worry, It’ll Be Alright

Don’t Worry, It’ll Be Alright

From A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Don’t Worry, It’ll Be Alright

As a mother and as a school psychologist, I see many extraordinary friendships between children. My son Court and his friend Wesley share the very closest of friendships. Their relationship is truly exceptional.

Court has not had an easy childhood. He has been challenged with a speech and language handicap and gross motor delays. At age four, Court met Wesley in a Special Education preschool class. Wesley was suffering from a brain
tumor, causing him to have similar developmental delays as Court. An instant bond developed and they became best friends. No day was complete for either boy if either one missed a day of school.

At age two, Wesley was diagnosed as having an “inoperable” tumor on his brain stem. He endured several unsuccessful surgeries. While the boys played, Wesley began to noticeably drag his leg. An MRI showed significant tumor growth. Once again, it was time for Wesley to undergo another operation, only this time the surgery would be in Oklahoma City.

Court and Wesley were blessed throughout their preschool years with a wonderful teacher. The children affectionately called her “Bachmann.” She was the finest teacher I have ever met in my career as a school psychologist. Bachmann tried to explain and to prepare her class of language-delayed preschoolers about Wesley’s surgery and trip to Oklahoma City. Court became very emotional and cried. He did not want his best friend to go so far away on an airplane, and he certainly did not want a doctor to hurt Wesley.

On departure day, Wesley and the entire class said their farewells. Tears rolled down Court’s cheeks. Bachmann then dismissed the class to allow Court and Wesley private time to say goodbye. Court was afraid that he would never see his best friend again. Wesley, frail and much shorter than Court, hugged Court at chest level, looked knowingly up into Court’s eyes and soothingly replied, “Don’t worry, it’ll be alright.”

The operation was extremely dangerous, but Wesley pulled through once again. After many weeks, he returned to school. Court and Wesley became closer than before.

As the years passed by, Wesley had to have several more critical operations and had to be subjected to many experimental drugs. Each time, he suffered crippling side effects. Wesley spent much of his time confined to a wheelchair or having his frail body carried from place to place.

Wesley loved the school’s Jog-a-thons. Wesley would physically participate in any way possible. Although his legs failed him, those close to him didn’t. One year, Wesley’s mother pushed him in his wheelchair, with cheers of “Faster, Mom!” Another year, Wesley participated by being carried on the shoulders of another child’s father.

At age 11, every surgery and alternative medicine had been exhausted. The tumor had taken over his delicate body. On March 9th of that year, Bachmann notified Court that it was time to really say goodbye to Wesley, his dear friend, forever. Wesley was now at home and was not expected to live.

By Court’s 11th birthday, he had made great progress in his development. Academic difficulties were still apparent and running the Jog-a-thon was not Court’s best event. The day after the phone call from Bachmann, Court ran in the Jog-a-thon. Court was recovering from a cold and asthma but convinced me to let him go to school. When I picked him up from school that afternoon, he said that his lungs were burning. He was holding a certificate and a shiny first-place ribbon. The certificate read, “First Place for Fifth-Graders awarded to Court in dedication to his friend Wesley.”

Court, who is usually not an assertive, “take charge” child, insisted that we go to see Wesley that night. Wesley’s mother arranged for us to visit him between medication times. Wesley was in bed in their family room. A soft light was shining on his fragile, angelic body, while Christian music played in the background. Between the cancer and the pain medication, Wesley could do very little. Occasionally, he was able to squeeze someone’s finger and open one eye.

Bachmann was able to arouse Wesley and help him understand that Court was with him. Court held Wesley’s hand as he showed Wesley the First Place certificate. Court expressed his deep feelings of desperately wanting to win for Wesley since Wesley was unable to be there. Wesley squeezed Court’s finger and gave Court a look that was to be understood only for them. As Court leaned over to give Wesley a kiss, he whispered, “Goodbye Wesley, my friend. Don’t worry. It’ll be alright.”

Wesley did live to see his 11th birthday, and then died that June. Court went through the formal motions of the funeral that one does, but when he was asked about how he was feeling, he explained that he had already said goodbye to his best friend and knew Wesley would be “alright.”

I thought the story of their friendship was over when Wesley died. I was wrong. Exactly a year after Wesley’s death, Court became violently ill with meningitis. While we were in the emergency room, Court desperately clutched onto me. We were both afraid. Court had the chills and could not stop shivering. While the doctor was completing the spinal tap, Court and I experienced a warmth and an indescribable calmness come over us. Court instantly relaxed and stopped shaking. After the doctor and nurse left the room, Court and I stared at each other. Court, fully composed, turned to me and said, “Mom, Wesley was here in this room and he said, ‘Don’t worry, it’ll be alright.’”

I believe with all my heart that some friendships never die.

Janice Hunt

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