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“Thank you for the ride home Mrs. Lee.” I called back to my best friend’s mom. I was dropped off at the top of my driveway from cheerleading. I got the mail and picked up the newspaper. I walked down to the dark house, my red ponytail bobbing up and down. The wind blew and my skirt flew up, good thing I had shorts under them! I looked back at the road to make sure nobody saw what had just happened. I ran down to the garage and opened the door. “I’m home!” The smell of fried chicken found it’s way into my nose and I couldn’t wait to eat. I walked into the kitchen and saw my aunt at the stove and my younger sister at the counter doing her homework.
“Hi Alli,” Aunt Lisa greeted me. She gave me a kiss on my cheek and went back to cooking.
“Aunt Lisa, what are you doing here?” I asked setting my messenger bag down on a chair at the wooden table.
“Well, Alli, Erin, we need to talk.” Aunt Lisa said to my sister and I. She sounded worried about telling us what she was about to tell us. My stomach flipped and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hear what she was about to say.
We went into the large family room and we all sat down on the couch, Aunt Lisa inbetween the two of us. “Ok, so what is it? Is something wrong?” I asked anxious to know what was so important.
“Aunt Lisa, why are you crying?” my seven year old sister asked. When I saw the water trickling down her face, I knew something bad had happened. Was it my parents? Were they in a car crash? Was it my other sister Jill?
“I’m not sure how to tell you girls this, but,” Aunt Lisa started to say. For some reason, I knew what she was going to say. They found out why Jill was having really bad headaches. I started shaking my head. “Jill went for some tests to see what was causing her headaches, and they found out that,” I prepared myself to hear the worst. “It turns out that Jill has, she has a brain tumor.” Aunt Lisa started to cry hysterically. Even though I’m sure Erin didn’t know what a brain tumor was, she new it was bad. She started to cry and I just sat there, expecting something lighter than what had just landed on my stomach. It was like the whole world stood still. I didn’t cry and I didn’t move. How could this happen? Jill of all people, my little five year old sister! Cancer, people die of cancer, people lose their hair from cancer, people are placed in wheelchairs from cancer; I just couldn’t imagine my sister with cancer!
I got up slowly and walked to my room, like I was in a trance. I got onto my computer and signed onto my screen name. My best friend Stephanie was on, so I clicked her name and we started talking. “Stephanie, I need to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
“I just found out that Jill has cancer!”
“Alli, that’s not something to joke around about!”
“No Steph, she really has cancer, a brain tumor.” I started to cry as I typed the words. It just hurt so much for me to admit that she does have cancer. Suddenly the phone rang and I answered it in a shaking voice. “Hello,”
“Alli, are you serious? Does Jill really have a brain tumor?” I heard Stephanie’s voice full of worry over the other line.
“Yes,” That was it, I couldn’t hold it back any longer. I started crying hysterically. My arm flew down from my ear with the phone still clutched in it. I fell to the floor with my back against the wall and started to cry. I tucked my knees up to my chest and rested my head on the wall.
“Alli, Alli, are you there?” I heard the faint voice of my best friend on the floor. I hung up and just sat there, crying and letting the tears flow to my feet.
After a few minutes, I looked up and saw the crucifix hanging on the wall. It was a wooden cross with Jesus on it being crucified. My family went to church every Sunday and we said Grace at dinner. We said prayers and we were Catholic. So we believe that Jesus is the son of God. I got up and walked slowly over to the small cross and knelt down. I made the sign of the cross and I put my hands together. “Dear God, please watch over my sister. She’s just a little girl and my family and I need you more than ever. I know I haven’t been a true Catholic, praying every day, learning how to say the Rosary. Please God, watch over my sister, I am putting my trust in you. God, show me a sign, I need to know that you are watching over us. Please let me see the number thirty-six, anywhere, on a math sheet, on a license plate, even on a wall, I don‘t care, I just want to see the number thirty-six.” I made the sign of the cross again and I got up off my knees. I walked downstairs and found Erin and Aunt Lisa still crying. They looked up when they heard my soft footsteps coming into the kitchen and coming towards them in the family room.
They stopped crying and looked up. “Alli, where did you go?” my aunt asked wiping the tears from her face.
“I went upstairs.” I said casually.
“Oh, come here.” she grabbed me and we were all sitting on the couch, my aunt’s arms wrapped around us. “What ever happens, just know that your family is here for you and you can talk to us anytime and our shoulders are here for your tears.” I looked up and smiled.
“Hopefully there won’t be too many of them.” We got up from the couch and we ate dinner.
It was after dinner and Erin was watching TV and Aunt Lisa and I were in the kitchen washing dishes. “So what are the doctors thinking of doing to help her?” I asked, the question finally coming out of my mind and into the open air. But it just hung there, like a spider hanging down from it’s web. We stared at each other for a few moments.
“Tomorrow morning they are going to go in for surgery. The doctors are going to try their best to get some of the tumor out, if not all of it.” Aunt Lisa said putting down the dishtowel and leaned on the sink looking at me. My heart skipped a beat.
“Are you saying that a bunch of doctors are going to cut into my little sister’s head and go into her brain?!” I yelled. My aunt gave me a sharp look and then looked over towards Erin to see if she had heard. “When are you going to tell her?”
“ Probably tonight, I might have your parents tell her. I’m not sure how much she can handle in just one night.”
“Aunt Lisa, you have to tell her tonight though. She can’t go with out knowing until we get to see her in the hospital after the surgery.” I said harshly. We stared at each other and then she looked away. We both finished the dishes in silence, in the end I went
upstairs, took a shower, and went to bed.
That morning I woke up and got ready for another day of school. I walked downstairs and saw my aunt at the table drinking coffee. I dropped my book bag and she looked over at me. I was hoping that yesterday was all a dream and that I woke up this morning from it. “Good morning Alli.” she said with a fake smile. I just stood there, expecting for time to freeze. “Alli, honey are you okay?” I managed to nod and walk over to the table.
“I’m fine, just shocked. I thought it was all a dream.” I said with a shaky voice.
“I’m sorry darling, but it’s true. How did you sleep last night? You didn’t even say good night to us.” my aunt asked taking a sip of crÃ¨me colored coffee.
“I was really tired, I guess I slept fine.” I answered. I got up and got a granola bar and rushed out to catch the bus.
It was hard getting through the first half of school. My mind kept going back to Jill. I kept wondering about her and what she was doing and how my parents were. I was also looking for that sign that I asked for from God. In math I looked at the work sheets extra carefully, there was everything but thirty-six! At about lunch time, I gave up on looking for the sign from God and more about trying to keep my mind off of Jill’s surgery. It was finally the end of the day and the afternoon announcements came on. Our school announcements are kind of like at newscast. And in the afternoons, they tell us what the weather was.
We all sat at our desks listening to the students talking. “Today, Friday, it is thirty-six degrees and windy.” I perked up and looked at what the screen said. Sure enough it
was thirty-six. The three and six that I had been waiting all day for. I smiled a smile so big that I could barely see. I had an unexplainable feeling. I now knew that God was watching over us and that this wasn’t just a coincidence. He really was going to take care of Jill, and our family. I ran to the buses and prayed for there to be no traffic and to get me home fast!
I pulled the door opened and saw my neighbor in the kitchen. “Hi Alli.” she said so innocently.
“I need to call my parents!” I said excitedly.
“You can’t, I’m sorry. They are at the hospital, they’re still waiting for Jill to get out of surgery. I’m not sure they have reception in the hospital.” I grabbed the phone anyway and ran upstairs. I went into my room and locked the door. She came up after me and started knocking on my door. “Alli, I told you not to call them!” I ignored her and dialed the number. It rang a few times and then I heard my mom’s sweet voice.
“Hello,” she answered.
“Hi mom, it’s Alli. I have something really important to tell you!” I spoke fast.
“What is it honey?” she sounded stressed.
“Jill is going to be okay! I got a sign from God, I asked for a sign that he is watching over us and he gave me the sign that I asked for!”
“Oh Alli, that’s great! Thank you so much for praying for your sister. But I really must go, the nurse is out here to tell us how she’s doing.” My mom hung up and then I opened the door. I put the phone back and ran back upstairs and kneeled under the Crucifix.
“Oh dear God, thank you so much for showing me that sign! I am putting all of my faith and trust in you. Please do what is best for Jill. Even if it isn’t the outcome that I want, please let me understand. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Suddenly the phone rang and I picked it up. It was my mom! We talked on the phone for a few minutes and Jill had done great in the surgery and was still sleeping. My heart lifted up and I heard the angels sing. I hung up the phone and looked at the clock. Four thirty-six, what a “coincidence”.