By Giselle Fernandez-Farrand
from Los Angeles,CA
A true story of courage by Giselle Fernandez-Farrand
It's funny how life is what happens to you after you make your plans. It's a saying I have heard throughout my life from my mother. You're heading one way and all of a sudden a series of events aligns like a perfect storm and you get this strong inner gut feeling, "this is no coincidence; something greater than myself is at work here."
I'm still trying to absorb all the events of the past months, but am quite sure about one thing; what I just went through was no accident. In fact, as bold as it may sound, I actually feel it was so very meant to be. In the innermost quiet of my soul, I do believe God or the universe or whatever force of fate you believe in, called to me, and despite my hectic and often frenetic life, I heard it and felt it deeply. It cut through all the noise. I knew it was something I needed to do. That's not to say I understood all that was happening, or where it was going, or even why it was important. I didn't. I just knew it was.
I knew that I had met an extraordinary being who was both little boy and wise old sage all wrapped up in one little body who asked me to help fulfill a dream. Who knew that in doing so, he would make mine come true as well. In fact, at the time, no one would have imagined how magical our meeting would turn out to be. I thought I was doing something for him. Little did I know how much he would end up doing for me and my family.
The young boy/little man who would come to change my life and that of so many others is Dustin Meraz. I was told by all who knew him on Four West, the oncology floor for the sickest kids at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, what a special being he was. Every child here is special, say the doctors, but this one tops them all. Regardless of all he was said to be, no one could have prepared me for our first meeting. He was receiving quite a potent intravenous dose of something called BSO that all hoped would be the last- chance miracle he needed to kill his cancer. Walking through the bright halls of Childrens to his super-isolated room, where we had to wash our hands and don protective masks and footsies before going in, I never expected to be greeted with such a radiant smile from a boy I was told was probably going to die, and knew it.
Of course, that's what was foremost in my mind. I'm meeting a terminally ill child. Yes, all the doctors said there was always hope for a miracle; they'd seen it before, but it was still unnerving to know such a young soul was confronting very adult fears and coping with them.
I've been around the dying before; a man very close to me died in my arms after a valiant fight with pancreatic cancer. He was just forty-three and the loss was crushing. He had so much left to do and to live for. But this was different. This was a young boy. This was a bright, effervescent child, who might never get his license, go to his junior or senior prom, much less experience his first kiss. My dear friend who was cut down young at least lived to experience some life. It seemed so unfair that any child would be denied the opportunity to fully realize his potential. Kids get colds and broken bones playing ball; they don't get diagnosed with a killer cancer at eleven years old after going through ten normal years doing all the normal kid things -- baseball, soccer, wrestling and snarling with his older brother, and dreaming of one day becoming a movie star. Dustin loved to act!
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