Eight years is not very long.
Especially if that's your entire lifetime.
That isn't even long enough to make it into the national census.
It is a long time to be in pain though. A long time to be a child who has to fight will illness that lands you in the hospital every few weeks, taking medicines, getting shots, missing school, missing your friends.
But it isn't very long to run and play, or check for presents under the Christmas tree, or have sleepovers, or get enough hugs and kisses.
And it definitely isn't long enough if you're someone who loved that child.
Today a little girl I had in my class for nearly 3 years would be turning 9 years old. There isn't any good way at all to talk about how she died last year, so I won't even try. She was here, and then all of a sudden she was not. There isn't any good way to talk about a child's funeral, so I won't. It was horrible, and that's all. Watching her mother cry over the tiny casket was one of the most heart-wrenching things I've ever witnessed, and I hope I never see something like that again.
I'll call her Babydoll, because that's what I called her most often in my classroom. She was teensy- tiny. She came to me in a wheelchair and not talking and had an angry/sad face. I was determined to turn her around. I made her get up and walk. I wouldn't give her a snack until she asked for it. I made faces at her to get her to smile. Mean teacher, I was. Also effective. The 1st time we walked down the hallway (a 2 minute trip for the rest of the kids) it took her 18 minutes. I walked with her. After three years, the hallway trip only took her 3 minutes. After 3 years, she would tell me stories about things that happened at home, and she laughed and played on the playground. She would crawl up in my lap on days it hurt too much for her to walk. I taught her to do addition and write her name and name her letters.
She taught me to love more selflessly. And patience. Much, much patience as we walked, oh so slowly up and down the hallway, time and time again.
I would love to be inspirational and say that I know she's in Heaven with Jesus running around and not in pain anymore (which I know she is) and how that's enough just to know she's okay. But really I just wish she was with her mom and dad and her little sisters right now, opening up a new Dora doll and blowing out candles on her birthday cake. Even though I know that she's in heaven right now where there are no more tears, no more medicines, no more shots.... really right now I just wish she was right here where I could pull her up in my lap one more time and hear her laugh, and wish her happy birthday and walk with her down the hallway one more time.
Happy Birthday Babydoll.