On the way to Iggy’s room the next day, I grabbed a pair of scissors and a tape dispenser from the main desk (after the secretary permission) and managed to snatch a few sheets of blue, yellow, and white construction paper.
When I got to his room I was greeted with an open door.
“Wow. Am I actually welcome today,” I asked after I’d dumped the art supplies on his desk.
He grunted and swung the wheelchair around so he could hop into it from where he sat in bed. “I thought I might as well let you in before you start bugging me.”
I nodded. “Good idea.” Then I set to work.
He scowled at me as he slid off the shorter-than-normal bed that was designed for him so he could get in and out of it easily without help. “What’re you doing?”
I ignored him and began chopping away at the construction paper.
“Stupid,” he muttered.
“Yup.” And I continued.
About a half-hour later, with him leaning over my shoulder the entire time, I was ready to begin my plan.
“You won’t go outside, right?”
He raised an eyebrow at me and sighed. “We’ve been over this.”
“Then the outside will come to you.”
Iggy huffed at me. “You can’t be serious.”
I stood and taped the first little square of blue onto the wall, then a small white cloud on top of it.
“Hey! Stop!” He shoved me out of the way and reached for the patch of color on the white-washed wall. But his hand fell short by a foot from the tape that held it to the wall.
“Take it down!” He strained for the paper, lifting himself off the wheelchair with one hand on the armrest, ever-reaching, but still fell short a few inches.
I felt bad for him, but decided I needed to keep pressing the matter. So I moved along the wall, taping up squares of blue and placed their own cloud on each. On the last square, I added a cloud and a large yellow circle. The sun.
Iggy had given up long before I’d finished with the taped squares all around the room, always just out of his reach, and now he was glaring at me with arms crossed over his chest.
“You’re an idiot,” he said, so sure of himself that I felt my smile waver.
I knew what I was doing was cruel, to a certain extent, but this kid needed to see what was still out
there. Not only what was going on right now, in his room that he refused to leave.
“I know,” I said. “But I’m not letting you hurt yourself more than this already has.”
I didn’t find out what had happened to his legs until three days later when he finally warmed up to me the tiniest bit.
Turns out he’s got a type of cancer, called Osteosarcoma, that affects the bones. The veins and arteries in his legs were threatened by the cancer, so they had to be amputated. There was no other way to save him than to remove both legs below the knees.
And he was still at the hospital because he was receiving treatment for the rest of the cancer in his upper legs that didn’t pose any life-threatening circumstances. So it was able to be treated normally.
But he would still never walk or run without prosthetic legs--or play football like he’d dreamed since he was ten-years-old. And that was why he wouldn’t leave his room.
“I can’t face everyone at school again.”
“What do you think they’ll say?”
“I don’t know.” He stared at the floor. “That’s why I can’t go back there.”
“But it doesn’t mean you should just give up, you know.”
He shrugged. “Doesn’t mean I should keep going either.”
At that point, I wasn’t sure how to prove him wrong. But I did know that he would have to find his own will to live. Without me, he’d have to find it.
I was just there to help him along.