I believe that everyone we come into contact with in our lives has an impact on us. Whether or not it is a random stranger or our closest friend, everyone has the potential to leave an imprint on your heart. Some people, though, leave a much bigger mark than others. I have really taken to being receptive to others and learning from their admirable qualities. I think it’s so important that we learn from people we look up to when we envision becoming our best selves.
Someone who taught me so much was Ariana, a graceful, beautiful girl in my graduating class. In our sophomore year, she was diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer. This past weekend, she passed away. I had been thinking about her a lot lately, the way she faced obstacles with faith and grace. She always had a smile on her face and never complained once: everything that she had to say was positive, even if it dealt with a negative subject. It always made my day to see her in her uniform at school– she was a hell of a fighter. She was the most prime example of optimism I have ever seen, and I strive to be happy and positive like she was. Ariana was also the most amazing woman of faith I have ever known. As her Make-a-Wish trip, she travelled to Rome to meet the Pope. Wouldn’t most teenage girls wish to meet their favorite band or celebrity? Ariana truly transcended us. She just understood what life was about: family and faith.
“Cancer may have changed me forever, but it does not define me. The way I choose to live does. I have learned not to worry about the small things in life and literally to live one day at a time, because we can’t control yesterday or tomorrow. Today is the only reality we can live in. We have to make it count.”
It still hasn’t hit me that she’s gone now. I typically have delayed reactions with things like this, and I know the cliche statement, “they never truly leave,” holds some truth, but I really think that Ariana’s spirit will never leave us. While her soul is home in Heaven, she has given us each a gift. To all those who were blessed enough to know her, she has given the gift of unconditional love and acceptance, steadfast faith, and unfailing optimism. I know that she will always be with us and watching over us. Rest in peace, dearest Ariana.