A Story of Best Friends in the Face of a Terminal Illness

“We lived in in West Orange when our son Daniel was diagnosed with Leukemia. He was 17 years old. This was about 25 years ago. When he was diagnosed I was a secretary at that time. I walked away from my job so I could be with Daniel. Daniel was very ill. He almost died on us three times. It was hard for his father too. His father was his Boy Scout leader, then his Eagle Scout leader.

“Daniel had a lot of friends from school visit him in the hospital to cheer him up. He was the drummer in the marching band, and they all came at the same time at Christmas to cheer him up. It was very sad being in the hospital. He was there for over a year, and a lot of children he became friends with died. All different ages, from 5 to 21 years old. There was one boy, an African-American, his name was Charles, and he was a year younger than Dan, and he had Leukemia too. The two of them got so close. They were best of friends, inseparable. 

“I remember for Christmas, Dan got a new Star Wars movie on video, and Charles had never seen a Star Wars movie before. So the nurse gave them a separate room with popcorn and a TV and they watched the Star Wars movie together. They were like brothers. But eventually Charles took a turn for the worst, and we all knew Charles wasn’t going to make it. 

“Charles was very sick, and was saying his last goodbyes to everybody. And Daniel and I went into his room, and I just held Charles, all of us crying. He was telling me he wished I could be his mother. His mother wasn’t there a lot because his father had left him when he was younger, and his mother had to work a lot. Dan went to him last to say goodbye… and they just hugged and hugged and cried. They loved each other. It’s hard for me even today to talk about it. I remember it like it was yesterday. Daniel is still with us today, and I know he and Charles would still have been best friends to this day.”

~ Toms River Library

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