While the entire nation mourned the loss of so many innocent souls on this past Friday, the Young Writers Project was shaken to the core by the loss of another beautiful and innocent soul, taken too early from our tight-knit community of writers and creators. Emily, a 15 year old, high school freshman– talented actor, writer, and artist– succumbed to her nearly life-long battle with leukemia. This is an exceedingly long post for me, but I implore you to read it all. She deserves at least that.
This poem was written by Alan C. Homans, Emily L’s oncologist. He asked if we could post it on YWP and we were honored to do so. Even if you didn’t know this girl, this poem will show you what she meant to everyone she met….
It is the season of short cold days and long dark nights
But it is also the season of gifts and candlelight.
When Emily left, a light went out,
But with our help, her light can still burn bright.
Emily, being Emily, left us gifts for the season before she went away.
The first gift was simply that of her presence.
For 15 years she made this a better place –writing, acting, studying,
and generally making her life as full as possible.
Moving through her time with that wild mane of red hair… or not.
The second gift was her example of how to live.
Disappointed by disease, pain, and setbacks,
She nonetheless pushed on, not ignoring adversity, but in spite of it.
The third gift is Emily’s example of how to gracefully face the end
Realizing that her disease was getting the upper hand
She faced death down, and with courage and dignity said, in effect
“you can have this body – it has served, and betrayed, me long enough.
But you cannot take, and will never take, Emily”
In this season of short cold days and long dark nights.
Accept these gifts, Emily’s parting offering, and in the spirit of the season
Pass her light and courage on.
To those suffering from hurricane and flood – pass it on
To the families consumed with grief– pass it on
To those in need here, and around the world, please, for Emily’s sake, pass it on.
Let Emily’s light burn bright.
Here’s a piece written by Emily in response to what we had considered a relatively frivolous prompt… “Hair.” It is anything but frivolous. From when she was in second-grade.
The Story of My Hair
By Emily L
When I was born, like most babies, I was bald. My hair grew as I turned one and two. Then when I was almost three, I got Leukemia. Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects your blood cells. I went on medication that would help me, but chemotherapy made my hair fall out. It got shorter and shorter until I was bald.
My parents and friends bought me lots of bandanas, wigs, and hats but I didn’t wear any of them. I was only three. I didn’t care if any one saw my bald head. I went to preschool bald and pretty much everywhere bald. Soon my hair grew so it was short and later it grew into thick red curls. I went through one more year of preschool, and then in kindergarten I had a relapse. A relapse is when you have cancer again after the first time.
When I had a relapse, my hair fell out again and once again my parents and friends bought me lots of bandanas, hats, and wigs. Since it was winter, I chose a purple winter hat. I even wore it inside, but then spring came and my head got hot. My friend bought me a blue hat with clouds and a brim. I chose that gift to be my next hat. I wore it through the rest of kindergarten and all through first grade. Now in second grade, I still wear that hat.
My story of hair is different from others but I act like a regular kid. My body looks no different from any other kid’s body and I will always be myself. No matter where I go, I will always be me.
Wherever you are now, I hope you are still you. Amazing. Rest in peace.