This is about my friend who passed away from a brain tumor at the age 17 and how it affected my life as a friend of hers.
I remember the first day I saw Tracy and the last day I did. They have stayed sharp in my mind for the past seventeen years. Tracy and I were introduced by a classmate at the pool when we were 10 years old. In the beginning, we did not get along with one another. Then we started to become close friends. We would write letters back and forth and pass them in the hallway or in class and not get dressed in gym. When we were 11, the woman who collected the Salvation Army money at Christmas thought we were twins. I remember hanging out with Tracy before she got sick. We were sitting in her room smoking cigarettes and chatting away.
Around September of 1998, Tracy started to get sick. She would become dizzy and nauseous. Some days, I would have to walk her to the nurse’s office before school started because she didn't feel well. On the days she did, we would share blue cheese salads at lunch. She would always give me the tomatoes because she didn't like them. At that point, we weren't as close as we were in middle school up to freshman year in high school. As the months went on, she became sicker and started to lose a lot of weight. She could barely go to school. She went to the doctors and they never did an MRI or CAT scan even though she had the symptoms of a brain tumor. The last time I hung out with Tracy was about 3 days before she collapsed and had a seizure. We were chatting about a friend’s party and I had asked if she was invited. She told me “no” and I remember being so angry at the friend. That was the last time I saw Tracy.
On February 21 1999, Tracy collapsed and had a seizure. She was put on life support. I found out the following day. I went to see my friend Lisette in Math class and she was extremely upset. She told me to go to the Guidance Counselor's office. When I walked in there, a few of my and Tracy's friends were there. The Guidance Counselor told us what had happened. Everyone was crying except me because I was in shock. I called my mother right away and told her. I went to one of my friends houses and just hung out still in shock.
We went to church and prayed that Tracy would be okay. I just sat in the hallway at school and stared. I didn't go to class because of how upset I was. I never visited her in the hospital. I couldn't stand seeing her lying there on life support. She was a person who would tell you when you were wrong and would make you apologize. She would always have your back when you were right no matter what the situation was. I couldn't see her because I didn't want the memory of her lying there on life support to be the last memory of her. I wanted the blue cheese salad memory to be the last one.
On February 23, 1999, Tracy was taken off of life support due to her vegetative state. She had a brain tumor in her cerebellum. Before Tracy was taken off of life support, tests were run to make sure that nothing could be done to save her. I received the phone call at my friend’s house that Tracy died. I started balling. All of my friends called their parents and told them what had happened. I couldn't stop balling, I lost my friend. Someone who I had all these memories with, someone I wished I was closer to before she passed away. Her wake was on February 26, 1999. So many people were there from the community and the school. People were balling and a friend of ours ran outside and couldn't be consoled. I took another friend of mine with me because I didn't know if I could handle it. I remember exactly what she had on and how one of her nails had her boyfriend's name on it.
The next day was the funeral. I took my friend Nicole with me. My mother, Nicole and I sat in the pew and listened to everyone speak. I held back my tears even though Nicole was next to me crying. When the casket went past me, I started to ball. I felt broken because I knew I would never see her again. I would never be able to talk about all the boyfriends, pass notes in the hallway or even joke around about all the memories we shared growing up.
When we got to the cemetery, it was freezing out because it was winter in New York. I just remember looking into the ground knowing that that would be my friend's final destiny into heaven.
Tracy has been gone for ten years and there has not been a day that has gone by that I haven't thought about her. She was truly an inspiration for staying strong through everything up to her death. She makes me want to strive through everything I have gone through. Each year, Tracy’s family walks for Brain Tumor research and awareness in memory of Tracy Ann.
I know she is looking down upon me, her family and her friends and is smiling. I still have the letters that Tracy wrote me in high school. I get great comfort reading them because I know she's with me. Tracy, I still miss you. Thanks for sticking with me when times were rough and thank you for all the memories. I'll never forget them.
Rest in Peace Tracy. May 27, 1981-February 23, 1999.