Ever since I was a child I’ve hated and feared the dark. Not knowing what was hiding in the shadows has always irked me. I’ve always slept with a lamp lit in my room, otherwise I would keep myself awake thinking about the creatures lurking in the dark corners of my room. Having a lamp lit at night was okay when I was younger. But as I got older people started to think that I was being childish. A 17-year-old that sleeps with a night lamp on! Everyone I knew thought I was silly, everyone but one person. He understood me. He was my best friend and my confidante.
We became friends during the first year in high school, we were inseparable and most people thought that we were a couple. We only laughed at the thought of it, we thought of ourselves more like brother and sister than anything else.
A couple of years passed and nothing had really changed between us, we were still best friends with each other and we always hung out together after school and on weekends. And my fear of the dark has also not changed either, to my parents’ dismay.
Our graduation was getting closer and our future looked like it was going to be a good one. We had planned to go on a trip together around the world. Starting in New Zealand and from New Zealand we would travel west until we were home again. Sadly out plan never became reality. Eleven months away from graduation he went on a check-up at the local hospital and he was informed that his leukemia was back, worse than before. When he was nine he had gotten diagnosed with chronic leukemia and he had gotten treatment for it. After two years of chemotherapy he was cured and the risk of the illness returning was very low.
But now it was back and there was nothing that could be done, he didn’t react to chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation wasn’t possible because there weren’t any donors that had his type of bone marrow. Therefore he had only a year left to live.
He had to go to graduation in a wheelchair, he was much too weak to walk on his own. The disease had eaten away his handsome features, his brown eyes duller than before and his face looked gaunt and tired. His appetite had faded with the progress of the illness and now his body was sickly thin. He smiled tiredly up at me, looking proud and glad to be at our graduation day. I pushed his wheelchair when his named was called so he could receive his diploma in person. I know that it made him very happy to not have someone get it for him, and it was something I can really understand. Receiving your diploma is special and it’s nothing you want someone else to do for you. Afterwards I followed him to his room at the hospital, where we had a small graduation party of our own. I stayed there with him until he fell asleep from the exhausting day.
The following week I visited him every day, bringing tea and just sitting beside him on the bed. You could see him getting worse with every passing day and it was so sad to see him waste away.
One afternoon he said to me that he was so glad to have me as his friend, I had always stood by him no matter what happened. “And I love you for that.” After he had said that I broke down sobbing and as tears streamed down my face I hugged him close. I whispered softly in his ear. “Please don’t leave me. I don’t know what I’ll do without you, I’m so afraid.” His answer was that there’s no need to be afraid because he would always be there in some way. Even in the darkest of places he would follow and guard over me.If I had known when I left that evening that it was the last time I would see him alive I would have stayed the whole night sitting next to him, just watching him sleep.
The funeral was two weeks later and it was really beautiful, I think he would have liked it if he had been there. The following night I went to bed with the night lamp on, and then I thought of his words to me. “I will follow you into the dark, so you don’t have to be afraid.” So I raised my hand to flick the switch to the night lamp. And as room got dark I knew I was safe. He was there with me in the dark.