She laid down the pen. Gently, she closed the diary as she placed it on the table. Leona finally decided to step through the door. She saw the light in the distance as Death took her hand and guided her towards the soft glow.
She was gone. Her family stood around her bed, stricken by grief, yet a small number of them were relieved that her suffering was finally over. On the table beside her bed sat the diary that she held only a moment ago. The simple leather-bound book was worn from constant usage. The passages hidden inside would soon reveal to others her final days.
Diary of Leona Reece, February 15, 2012
Today was a good day. I’ve been wrapping up one of my last paintings to showcase in Pittsburgh in a few weeks. I’m excited because it brings back spectacular memories of my days as a dancer. I wish I could relive those days, but I’ve already sworn to live without regrets. She would be very upset if she knew I still had those wishes.
After gaining some inspiration, I decided to go back to my apartment and work on my painting some more. It didn’t last long; I started to feel the effects of my illness creeping back into my body. Leukemia is like having another shadow, always following me. It mimics my every move. It knows when exactly I’m ready to let my guard down. It strikes. For the time being, I’m going to rest. Tomorrow will be better.
February 21, 2012
My second shadow isn’t as forgiving as I want it to be. However, I’m always thinking back to what she said to me. It helps to give me strength, especially on a day like today.
As I continued my painting, I was reminded of Sage again. Sage Fallon always knew how to give good advice. She was not only my guide in dancing, but also, for two years, a guide in my life. I owe so much to her. If only I knew where she was today. Last I heard, she was following her dream as an archaeologist in the Middle East. She lives life by her own advice.
I knew how to live by her advice as well. Even after permanently injuring myself in the Jazz Dance Championship when I was young, I found other channels of free expression. She told me to live with passion. I lived enough for the both of us.
February 27, 2012
Sometimes mental persistence just isn’t enough. My body doesn’t seem to want to agree with me today. It wouldn’t be the first time. It probably wouldn’t be the last time.
It made me think back to when I first joined the Graceful Cranes Dance Ensemble. I was only 12. It’s hard to believe that it has been almost 19 years!
I’ve been dancing since I was 5, but nobody wanted to believe that I had so much experience at such a young age. My peers were harsh critics. Sage helped me ignore them. She taught me to be a strong and independent woman. After I turned 14, she left the dance ensemble and went off to college. Even after all that time, her teachings stuck with me.
March 3, 2012
It seems to be getting worse. I’m not sure how much more time I have, so I’ve been working harder on my final painting. It depicts our Dance Ensemble during the championship. Instead of a stage, we are dancing in a field of flowers. A flock of cranes circle in the background. They are judging us as we try hard to represent their grace by dancing with fire and passion.
It reminded me of the championship. I was 17 at the time. I tore my calf muscle during the solo, and I was surprised to find Sage rushing down from the audience. She came! I was so happy to see her that I barely noticed the pain. After all those years, she was still watching from the distance.
March 7, 2012, Final Entry
Everyone is here. My entire family came to be with me. I was slightly saddened that Sage is not here, but news of my condition has probably not reached her. Maybe she will read this someday. I am dedicating my final painting to Sage. I’m calling it “The Birth of a Crane”.
This is my final adventure, Sage. Make sure this painting makes it to the exhibition. Drive my passion and perseverance one last time.
Sage closed the diary and set it back on the table. Tears streamed down her face as an overwhelming mix of emotions shocked her body. She stood up and wiped her face with her dirt stained sleeve. Slowly, she picked up the gentle work of art that sat by Leona’s empty bed. She felt Leona’s presence in the apartment. After one last glance at the diary, Sage finally decided to walk through the door.
I’ll live enough for the both of us, she thought.