Why are some left behind while others travel ahead? This question first consumed me after a classmate´s early death. Her ordeal remains a mystery only experienced from afar. Though we shared the same class, we lived in worlds apart. She came from a wealthy family, but had the simplicity of her name. Carol she was called, but she was Joy just the same. One day in Middle School, she vanished from our class. No explanations given, but as days began to pass, her silence was forgiven, Cancer now besieged our class. A sadness previously unknown, for those were days of lively zest, only the flue kept me home, for parental love and peaceful rest. So one day in second grade when the flue struck me ill, only Carol came to my aid while others stood silently still. She had a heart of gold whose brilliance never faded. A smile as white as pearls, destined never to be traded, for false promises or kind words that by others could be raided. But when her hour finally came, I could not repay in kind. To the inscrutable darkness of what lay beyond, I was still completely blind. Those were questions never asked, a mystery no child should have to unmask. The meaning of the cross hung only over my bed, for the Book of Life that answers carried still remained unread. What lay beyond the horizon of life was a sight too distant to contemplate. Questions regarding the afterlife had such an unbearable weight, because strife was a word unbeknownst to me, reserved for a distant future date, when all would be revealed after such a long wait. But when Carol came back to school, she was not her gregarious self. She was self-conscious about her gaunt appearance, bearing a hairstyle unlike herself. Only later did I learn that her hair was not her own. She now wore a black wig, an experience previously unknown. The treatment she had undertaken had cured her illness for now, but several years would have to pass before a final cure could be announced. In the meantime, Cancer could return for a final tragic bout, against her body, against her soul, over her future casting doubt. But those were years of radiance, when setting aside a troubled brow, she spoke only the language of hope, bravely and out loud. She found a boyfriend to walk by her side, though she was no longer alone, having found in Jesus Christ a savior and future home. The happiest classmate I ever had, was the very one staring Death. Tragic contradictions never so irreconcilably sad, when inhaling faith and hope with every single breath. Several years passed us by, and she seemingly vanquished her foe. But upon reaching the final bell, she received a fatal blow. Cancer had finally returned, now determined to strike her down. Once again to the best doctors she turned, but none was ever found, who could assuage her concerns, delaying the destination from which she was now mortally bound. While in the hospital in great pain she did contort, my class wrote her letters in full support, sending hope no great distance could silence the sound, while she fought for every inch of earthly ground. Her family possessed vast wealth, and to the best hospitals she was taken, but no ransom could be paid for her health: her nemesis of old had finally awakened. Though she fought with a mighty heart, having her mother always by her side, summoned she was for a brand new start, holding the hand of her loyal guide. For this is the lesson she learned from her savior Jesus Christ: a child only dies in strife to grow in eternal life. A child only dies in this world to grow in Paradise. Unbroken by a moment´s strife are the bonds of eternal paternity. A child only dies in life to grow in eternity.