I'm 16 years old. Being an eight-year old really is not that distant of a memory for me. I turned eight in 2005, five years after Michigan State's last NCAA Tournament Championship and a year after the Detroit Pistons won the NBA Championship. That was just over eight years ago. I remember being eight pretty clearly.
I have a sister (named Madison) who is currently nine years old. She turned nine last September-- sometimes I still mistakenly call her an eight-year old.
Adreian Payne's cute little pal Lacey Holsworth-- or Princess Lacey, as she's better known amongst Spartans-- died late on Tuesday night of neuroblastoma in her parents' arms. She was eight years old. I'm not going to go into all the tragic circumstantial details of her death, because there are plenty of amazing stories out there (by phenomenal writers like Kurt Mensching and Joe Rexrode) already. I just want to tell you all how it affected me.
I woke up around 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning to find a text from my dad: "Lacey died. So sad." Little did I know, Twitter was already in shambles about it, rightfully. I wasn't even thinking about it. The first person I thought of when I heard about Lacey's death (other than Payne and Lacey herself) was my sister, who is of a similar age.
I came downstairs to find my mom weeping. She had just read a plethora of stories and longform articles about Lacey. This was neither the first nor the last time she cried about Lacey that day. My sister looked and me and complained, "Ugh. Why is Mom crying again?"
That's when it hit me. Lacey's life ended at such a young age that most people-- including my sister-- don't even understand death. Madison felt sympathy for Lacey, but she really did not understand the magnitude of the situation. My mom, who's a much stronger person than I'll ever be, couldn't even take this in without crying. Madison, on the other hand, is an innocent little girl. She's older than Lacey and had no idea how sad this really was. Even when I read my mom and sister the Poems For Lacey Tumblr page, my sister looked more bored than moved. No matter how much I explained to her, she just couldn't grasp that concept that Lacey had so much left to live for. At that moment, I just hugged my sister so tight, hoping that my grasp would rid her of any fatal ailments for her entire life.
This made me realize that while it's awe-inspiring that Lacey knew so much about life and was wise beyond her years at such a young age, it should not have been like that. Lacey should not have had to face the tragedies of real life and stare such a terrible end right in the face before adolescence even struck her. Lacey should have been able to coast through her tween and teen years without realizing the value of life, just like my sister inevitably will do. In a perfect world, we want our kids to be grateful for what they have, but in all honestly a better childhood is one where kids are naive until they are adults and are forced to realize all the trials and tribulations of life.
It's amazing that Lacey's mind was so ready for anything that came at her, because although I love my sister will my whole self, I don't even know if she could handle it.
I realized Lacey was a hero, even though the cost of the heroism was facing a fatal illness with more perseverance than 99.9% of all people on earth. And I realized it through my sister's innocence.
I plan to wait a long time, and when my sister is older and matured, tell her the story of Lacey and I want to see her realize the importance and magnitude of what she's done to make all of us a little more grateful for what we have.