Courage. It’s hard to have it sometimes. I’m the first to admit I’m a rather cowardly person. I prefer agreeing with others to avoid confrontation, staying at home to avoid people, and remaining quiet to avoid awkward conversations.
I’ve always been known as the quiet girl, the shy girl. I prefer it that way – I can avoid conversations without being seen as rude and I can happily sit by myself at lunch time. I immerse myself in my books and love the strength and boldness in the characters I read.
I let out a sigh as the bell rang, grateful as the other students piled out of the classroom first. It was finally home time. I hated school – the crowds annoyed me, and the constant chatter was a distraction from my fantasy worlds. The end of the day was always the best part.
I darted up to the pickup zone, eagerly keeping an eye out for mum’s car. She was always there before pickup time; she knew how shy I was and how much I loved leaving school. She was always early for my sake. Except today.
My slight smile disappeared as I scanned the carpark. Her car was nowhere to be seen. I awkwardly shuffled over to the seats and curled into the far end – it wasn’t like my mum to be late. It made me nervous.
An hour passed by slowly, with no sign of her car. I could feel panic rising within me as I continued to watch the driveway, praying that she would arrive at any second. After another few minutes, a car finally rolled down the driveway. It wasn’t mum’s car; it was dad’s car. He worked late so he was never picking me up.
He pulled up in front of me and I quickly jumped into the car. Before I could say a word, I caught a glimpse of my father’s face. His eyebrows were drawn together, and a deep frown settled on his face. His eyes were slightly red, and he looked exhausted.
“Dad?” I muttered nervously. “Why are you picking me up?”
He cleared his throat and gently clasped my hand. “Your mother is with Eliza. She was admitted to the hospital today.”
Eliza is my older sister. Older by 3 years but I always thought I was more mature than her. “Why?” I questioned.
“She collapsed today. She was rushed to the hospital and after numerous tests they discovered why…” he trailed off and took a deep breath, making eye contact with me. “You sister has leukemia.”
My world crashed. I felt pressure on my chest and breathing suddenly became a chore. “She has cancer?”
Dad nodded. “We’re going to go see her now. The doctors have been taking treatment with your mother.” He squeezed my hand. “She’ll be okay, sweetie. The doctors will figure it out.”
I was silent the entire trip to the hospital. I didn’t want to believe it. My sister was immature sometimes and a little bit of a bully to me, but I looked up to her so much. She was my big sister. She was always there for me when I needed her. I couldn’t imagine a world without her.
When we reached the hospital, we quickly made our way to the room my sister was in. She was asleep but looked so ill. I’d never seen her looking so pale or fragile.
Mum pulled me into her arms, holding me tightly. “I’m so sorry you had to wait so long,” she sobbed into my shoulder. “I couldn’t get away, so I had to get your father to get you. I’m so sorry.”
I shook my head and squeezed her back. “I understand mum,” I replied quietly.
I sat by Eliza’s bed and squeezed her hand, she stirred slightly but return to her deep slumber. A doctor soon came in, his eyebrows furrowed as he glanced between us.
“I’ve tested both of you and I’m afraid you’re not a match,” he said quietly.
Mum’s expression darkened and I saw tears slipping out of her eyes again. “Is there no way?”
The doctor shook his head. “We will start looking for a donor, but family is usually the best place to find a match.”
My father gripped my shoulder. “Your sister needs a bone marrow transplant,” he said. “We were hoping that your mother or I would be a match.”
“A sibling does have a higher chance of being a match,” said the Doctor, staring straight at me. “If you would be willing to test, we could see if we can do the transplant.”
I took a deep breath. I knew that would entail surgery and tests for myself. That was terrifying. I gripped my dad’s hand while it rested on my shoulder and nodded. “I’ll get checked,” I said, trying to hide my fear.
It was an uncomfortable test, but not painful. I was grateful that it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. And, when the results came back, I was grateful that I was brave enough to get the test. I was a match. It was rare, and the odds were against us. But I was a match.
Courage. It’s hard to have it sometimes. I’m the first to admit I’m a rather cowardly person. But, when it comes to my family, my sister… I would do anything. My bone marrow was a match, I can save her life. For my sister, I can have surgery. I can endure the pain. I can be courageous for her.