An Essay By John E. Robinson, Kansas
In May of 2016 a letter was slid under my cell door from Annah, a twelve-year old black girl who was undergoing intensive chemotherapy to fight aggressive cancer - osteosarcoma. First diagnosed at age ten with the disease, she had already endured one painful year of chemo treatment and the removal of the bone and cancer in one leg.
At age twelve, on her birthday, Annah was diagnosed with cancer again, this time a very aggressive form of the disease in her lungs. While she was undergoing the hours of chemotherapy treatment at the hospital, Annah’s mom was reading my book, Journey Of Hope. When she left to get something to eat, Annah picked up the book and began to read some of the articles and poems. For some reason they spoke to her.
With her mother’s permission Annah wrote to me and asked if I would please write a poem just for her. Knowing the situation, how could anyone refuse her requests? It was difficult! For a long time the words just wouldn’t come - my mind was frozen. Annah’s mom had sent me a picture taken at the hospital. A very thin, bald little girl whose body was enduring the ravages of both cancer and harsh chemotherapy. Looking at that picture I was taken by her big smile. Then I noticed she had wonderful sparkling green eyes. Because I too have green eyes, I sat down immediately and wrote Our Green Eyes, just for her.
Anna continued to write and we became close. When I received a letter addressed to ‘Poppa John’ it made me cry. This little girl not only had the biggest smile, sparkling green eyes, she had a heart to match and the most positive, optimistic outlook on life one can imagine.
When her mom told me in a recent letter the cancer wasn’t responding to the treatment, the tumours had grown, the doctors had given up and now would simply do all they could to keep her comfortable, I felt defeated too! This beautiful little girl had adopted me! She had become my daughter. A melancholy of hopelessness overtook me. I don’t understand how God would allow such a precious child to suffer so terribly?
As I reflected on Annah, her life, her precious letters, I realised she wrote to me because she needed someone who understood what she was going through. Being in that ethereal, uncertain space between life and death. Suffering something others just couldn’t comprehend. I hoped the letters I wrote her, the cards I made for her, helped.
With Annah’s passing, her suffering is ended and she is now free and healthy for eternity. My special little daughter, who adopted me, is at peace. But I will ask every single day until I die... Why God? I don’t understand why.
The following is Annah’s poem...
Our Green Eyes
There are blue eyes in abundance,
Brown eyes seem to be the norm.
We who are blessed with green eyes
Are few, special with hearts so warm.
Green eyes can flash with anger,
See adversity and sorrow.
Desperation, suffering, despair today,
Bright sunny skies tomorrow.
Those of us with green eyes
Are quite strong and full of pluck.
Perhaps that touch of Irish in us adds
Just a wee bit more good luck.
John E. Robinson, Kansas