That’s not something I hear every day. Especially not from people still in their teens.
But if there’s one thing you can say about serious illnesses, it’s that they have the potential to forge lasting, meaningful friendships – just like the friendship between Haley and Lauren. I watched Haley take the mic in front of a mall full of people to not only honor her friendship with Lauren, but to tell her that her wish to go to Hawaii with her family would come true. Volunteers and staff from Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire were there, along with hundreds of shoppers who stopped to watch (this included no fewer than two other wish kids and their families who happened to be passing by).
They met just as Haley said good-bye to chemo for the first time. She just wanted to leave the hospital to go get sushi, but one of the nurses stopped her: Lauren was a new patient, and the nurse thought Haley could offer some guidance and support during the time of unprecedented and unwelcome disruption in her life. They bonded instantly, and began a friendship that led to Haley’s emotional and genuine speech.
Here are a few of my favorite words from Haley:
Lauren, you know what it is like to feel utterly scared. You know what it is like to stay awake at night from terrible pain. You know what it is like to look at your life and wonder how much longer it will last. You know what it is like to FIGHT.
I have to admit I felt some despair when Haley said this. Why in the world should anyone that young have to confront the end of their existence? I can only imagine what sort of character this experience has infused in Haley and Lauren … but I imagine it can really make future challenges seem more manageable.
I know you are younger than me, but I want to be YOU when I grow up! I want to infuse the world around me with inspiration and strength like you do!
I understand what Haley was saying. I’m closer to being her parents’ age than her age. I’m a father myself. But I somehow felt like what Lauren and Haley have faced in their life gives them a brand of maturity I hope I’ll never have.
Macy’s, which has donated more than $93 million to Make-A-Wish since 2003, hosted the unveiling of Lauren’s wish on National Believe Day. Macy’s associates gave her a makeover, took her on a storewide scavenger hunt and offered her gifts. Lauren had also collected more than 2,500 letters to support Make-A-Wish as part of the Believe campaign.