I don’t remember how old Jessica was when she died. We moved away when I was 6 years old, and I never saw her again.
The other day I was reading through some old papers when a name popped out at me, and with it a long-packed-away memory of Jessica.
She was several years older than me, but we knew each other from church. She had cancer, and it kept her home from school a lot. When Jessica had to stay home, she sometimes invited me over to play.
Jessica always made me feel special. She was a big kid who took an interest in me. She trusted me with her big kid toys and treated me as her equal. We played dolls and dress-up just as I did with my other friends – but with Jessica I always felt honored because she chose to play with me. I was just a little kid, after all.
I remember giggling while we played Barbies in her room. I remember her kindly instructing me to use her new toy this way so I wouldn’t break it. She never complained or argued with me about what we would do next.
Honestly, I don’t remember much more. I was very young, and we spent just a short time together. Yet, she left a lingering impression on me. She encouraged me. She cared about me. She made me feel valuable. Every time I remember her, I can’t help but smile.
Jessica probably never knew how special those few playtimes were to me. She probably never thought that I would still warm at the thought of her friendship more than 20 years later.
As I think back, I believe Jessica is one of the reasons why I do what I do. Though I was only 6 years old, I was changed by Jessica forever. She taught me that every person is valuable, no matter what their age; and no matter how much time you have with someone, you can change their life for good.
Because of that, I will never forget her. Thank you, Jessica.