In Honor of Michelle Beckwith
This letter is about my personal story. When I was 16, I had some very serious health problems. After months of treatment with no diagnoses, I decided that I would not take any more tests or visit any more doctors. The daily stress of my medical problems was wearing my family and I down, so my doctor recommended we take a vacation. So, off to Tennessee we went. The motel that we stayed in had a flyer for free fireworks at a local chain of firework stands. That was where I met my guardian angel, Crystal.
Crystal struck up a conversation with my dad about her long beautiful hair. He was bald, and told her that she should give her hair to him. She laughed and told him that if he was at the Chattanooga hospital in a few weeks that he could have all he wanted. She went on to explain that she had a brain tumor and was having surgery in a couple weeks. She went on to explain all the symptoms that started it all off. Most of which I had also been experiencing myself. So, the two of us began comparing symptoms and tests that we had both had to go through, and I told her that I was done being a guinea pig and a pincushion. After our lengthy conversation, she asked me for a favor. She asked me to have “just one more test” for her. I promised her that I would. We hugged and exchanged personal information and promised to keep in close contact.
I went home and had the only test that the doctors could think of, a heart echo. That test is where they found the tumor in my heart that caused my problems. My doctor put me immediately in the hospital for blood storage and more pre-op tests. The next week I had my open-heart surgery. I remember thinking “Crystal was right. It was the next test that would solve the puzzle. She truly is my guardian angel.” I got released on my 17th birthday after a small party with the doctors, nurses, and other patients from the heart ward. My nurses got me a cassette tape single that they all felt told the story of Crystal and I. It was a song called “Angels Among Us” by Alabama. After hearing it for the first time, I agreed. That song said it all for me. Life was good.
I went home to a house filled with Get Well/ Birthday flowers and cards. I happily went through opening all my cards until I saw one that was from Tennessee. I was ecstatic. The day could not be better. I get a card from Crystal, and on my birthday no less. Life is still so good! That was until I opened and read the card from her dad, Jim.
Jim told me that Crystal’s surgery didn’t go good. She was left in a vegetative state because the surgeon hit something in her brain that he should not have.That Christmas break I was able to go visit her and her dad. I sat beside her bed holding her hand, and asked her if she remembered me. She squeezed my hand. I hold her that I was alive because of her, that I loved her, and that she was my guardian angel. Tears were rolling down both of our faces.
She lingered like that for a couple years before passing away. Jim remains very close to me. In many ways God took his daughter and he gained one. Jim will forever be known as “Daddy J” to our future children and me.
Crystal was beautiful, courageous, and is my personal angel. Not everyone is fortunate enough to know the name and face of the angel that God chose for him or her. I do all I can to help support Angels Among Us in honor of the sweet angel that gave me a second chance at life. I never want anyone to have to lose a child, sibling, or parent because of brain tumors, when there are treatments that Duke can do to give them their life back.
“At Duke There Is Hope” is so much more than a motto. It’s a FACT. I firmly believe that if Crystal had been able to be seen at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke, she would be here with me today. Laughing about me calling her my guardian angel and at the interesting way we met.
Crystal’s Earthly Sister
Angels Among Us Volunteer for 5 years.