To my friend, J. ?
Next week, the beautiful box of Valentine?s truffles you sent me will be on a plane flying to Philadelphia. My new friend, Chelsea, will have packed them with care for the East Coast flight. I know these truffles, a special gift from you, were sent with love and friendship ? and for me to enjoy. So I want to tell you why I?m giving them away, to fly with Chelsea to Philly.
Last year, while teaching in Philly, Chelsea had a freshman student with whom she became friends. Natalia, 15 at the time, truly needed a friend and confidante like Chelsea. You see, in December 2010, Natalia?s mother was diagnosed with a very malicious bone cancer. From the outset, this cancer progressed with lightning speed and Natalia and her 16-year-old sister were told they would lose their mother in a very short time. As Natalia and her 16-year-old sister suffered daily watching their mother?s health decline, Natalia?s sister became ill. And, last April, with a horrible immediateness, Natalia?s only sister was diagnosed with the same rare bone cancer. In November, Natalia?s mother entered hospice and passed in December. Natalia?s sister passed this past January.
At the beginning of this February, Natalia was experiencing intense bone pain in her leg. She was speedily diagnosed with the same genetic bone cancer that had just recently taken her mother and sister. Two weeks ago, Natalia had to leave school, which she loves, to begin intensive chemotherapy treatments. The goal of these treatments is to shrink a monstrous tumor in her thigh. In two weeks, with hopes that the tumor has diminished, Natalia will have her leg removed ? a fate both her mother and sister endured during the course of their illness.
This is a true story and what is most amazing about the story is Natalia and her hopeful, positive heart and spirit. Chelsea opened a window for me on this young woman?s life and how she lives each day with joy, despite loss unfathomable to nearly every human being on this earth. I am not na?ve enough to believe this one box of truffles, given to me with love and now sent clear across the country with love, can touch this kind of loss. But maybe my Valentine?s truffles from you can put a smile on this courageous teenager?s face. She is only a teenager.
I hope you understand why I?m giving the truffles away.
?The names used in this story are ficticious.