“To lose someone you love is to alter your life forever,
The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes.
This hole in your heart is the shape of the one you lost- no one else can fit it.”
Nothing can compare to the pain of losing someone you love. Especially losing someone to unfair circumstances. No parent should have to watch their child suffer from an illness that racks their whole body, and very often snuffs out their little light. The world is a cruel and terrible place, full of unwanted horrors and indescribable pain.
Every once in a while, there’s a person who comes into your life when you least expect it and impacts it in more ways than you can imagine.
For me, one of those people had the name of Maya Marie Pettit. She was a little girl three and a half years old when I met her at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We had the same doctor in A Clinic and he thought our families should meet. I will be forever grateful to him for that.
Maya was a little ball of sunshine right from the start. She had a smile that could light up the room she was in instantly. Every time she laughed, her eyes would twinkle and you couldn’t help but laugh with her. She looked at the world through the eyes of an innocent child. The cancer she suffered from never took that from her.
The two of us shared a bond right from the start. We were drawn together not just by both having cancer, but also because she was a young soul who needed an older sister as much as I needed a little sister. Most of the time we were inseperable.
I have so many memories of her. I remember sitting out in the courtyard of Target House watching for butterflies simply because she thought they were magical. I remember dressing up and playing “Princess.”
Maya had such a strong love for horses, just like I did at her age, and still have even now as I am twenty years old. While we were both in the hospital, the movie “Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron” came out in theaters. That movie instantly became a favorite movie for the both of us. We would lose ourselves in the wide plains, our hearts and souls running free with the mustangs when our bodies couldn’t.
That little girl went through more than any four year old should have to. She always had a smile on her face though. Our Make-A-Wish trips were so similar. We both went to dude ranches and fulfilled our heart’s desire by being around what we loved and who we loved for a week. A whole week of pure bliss.
Maya went in and out of remission for a while until finally she just couldn’t do it anymore. I remember that day as if it was only yesterday and not years ago. I was sitting in my living room reading a book when my mom came in. I could see that something was wrong because it was written all over her face. She could barely get the words out of her mouth, then the floodgate was opened and they all came out at once in a blur. Maya had been in the hospital due to an infection. Her family was sitting with her and she just looked at her mom and simply said, “I can’t do it anymore.” That was that. That precious, loved, little light was snuffed out by the monster that cancer is.
It wasn’t until two years ago that I found out from Cara that one Sunday morning when they were attending Mass and lighting candles, Cara asked Maya who she wanted to light a candle for and she said my name.
Even now, when I’m having a particularly hard day, music from the Spirit soundtrack will come on the radio or will play in the Student Union at school. I know that even though Maya isn’t with us here on earth, she is with us still in spirit.
Personally, I like to think that she’s running with horses just like she’s always wanted to.