Campbell Grace Hoyt
Who was SHE to me?
If you’re reading this right now, you are probably thinking about who Cam was to you. Maybe she was a cousin, a niece, a granddaughter, or perhaps a sibling, or your baby girl. A complete stranger. Or like me, a best friend.
I met Campbell in first grade. From the moment I met her I knew I wanted to be her friend. She lit up every room she walked into, and always was so nice, and so HAPPY. We quickly bonded, along with my still Best friend, Ava. The three of us were almost inseparable – BFF. Best Friends Forever, wherever life took us. By the time Ava and I met Camy, she had already been diagnosed with cancer. Although we knew what that meant, it didn’t make us afraid of the “if’s” that came along with cancer. We loved our best friend with or without cancer, and nothing could change that.
I remember in first grade, Cam would often have to come in late to school, so Ava and I would switch off going to greet Cam and walk her into school. Every day that we went to greet her, she always had on an outfit of blue, purple or (usually) pink – each accompanied by a matching hat with a big fun flower, in addition to a Camy smile.
In second grade, neither Cam or Ava was put in my class, and although I had been put with my other best friend Blythe, it wasn’t the same.
I had a birthday party around January, and I remember that Cam had been really disappointed because she had a long surgery and couldn’t come. I was pretty disappointed myself, but knowing that the surgery was helping her sickness, I was able to let it roll over.
A few days later, I got a package wrapped in birthday paper, addressed to me from Cam. Just unwrapping the paper and I knew what it was. A Ukulele, pink, just like the one Cam had in her room that I fancied over each and every time I went over to her house. Now I had my own.
We remained BFF’s for a while after that. Soon enough, school was out. It was summer time. Which meant, more time to play and hang out with my friends. The first month or so was pretty awesome, just like an ordinary summer. But then cancer started to get worse for Cam. I was only about 8 at the time, so my optimistic self was pretty…optimistic. I truly believed that she would get better and then all would be well. Maybe the cancer would go away for good this time.
But it didn’t.
As it got worse and worse, I got pretty worried. Then it got really bad. I remember my parents telling me that she was so sick she couldn’t walk or talk. That got me pretty scared. Still, I thought she would be okay. I truly believed she would get better. I had faith. I had hope.
Then, one cloudy and dreary day, I was in my mom’s car. It was just me and her, driving home from an orthodontist appointment. The subject of Cam came up.
I roughly remember the conversation we had, but I know it started something like my mom saying, “She’s not doing so well Eva.” I responded with a regular optimistic Eva answer on the matter – “But she’ll get better. I know it, I believe.”
I had been looking out the window, but the unbearable silence of my mom not answering my response made me look at her face in the rear-view mirror. She looked nervous, uncomfortable even. Finally, she responded.
“I don’t know, honey”
A silent tear rolled down my cheek. That had not been the answer I was expecting.
“What?” I croaked. I looked back out the window. The day was so gray. And Cam wasn’t around to make the sun come out. When would I see her again? Was she going to get better? Was Mom truly unsure of what would lie ahead for Cam? Thoughts circled my head.
“Do you mean she is going to die?” I asked so quietly I hardly hear myself.
“I don’t know, Eva. I don’t know.”
I did end up seeing Cam again. It would be the last time I would see her with her eyes mostly open. Mrs. Hoyt lead me into the living room where Cam lay very still on an armchair. I took a deep breath. I walked over. I took a seat.
“Hi Cam!” I said carefully, as though if I spoke too loud or too forcefully I might break her. I could see a little light flicker inside her eyes, and I think she tried to smile at me. I forced a smile at her. I looked around. Everyone was watching us. My mom. Cam’s parents. Cam’s siblings. Cam’s dog, Storm (or Stormy to Cam), lay sad on the floor. I noticed a pile of books on a small table next to the couch. I picked up a Frozen themed book. Campbell loved Frozen. We used to watch it all the time. Opening the book, I began to read.
I couldn’t look out the window on the way home. It was too sunny.
Campbell Grace Hoyt passed away on August 22, 2014. And even though that was over 3 years ago, I still miss her. I always will.
Some days, when I’m feeling down, I think what life would have been like if she was still alive, still with me. But that’s not reality. Cam is gone. I can still miss her. I can still love her. But I have to accept that she is not coming back. God chose this path for her. And he sent her down to us to be our sun on a cloudy day. Someone who would love us beyond imaginable, and teach us that happiness and love is always possible and that we should be grateful of the love and happiness given to us in our lives.
We love you Camy.
You incredible, brave, beautiful girl.