Franklin thought you could.He was optimistic in every light and was blind to any obstacle in his way. Or rather, it’s naive of me to say he’s blind to the obstacles, as if he was too young to know that cancer provided a steep hill for him to pass, but rather he overcame it mentally and knew the rest would follow suit.
I met Franklin last semester in November of 2016 with my friend James when we were volunteering at Base Camp. Base Camp is a Children’s Cancer Foundation that provides snacks and lunch, as well as toys and experiences, to not only the children with cancer but also their families. We were on a “bagel run” when we stopped by Franklin’s room and chatted with him a bit. We promised we would come back in a few days to hang out and so we did (the next day I believe).
Later that night, James and I stopped by Target and got Franklin his favorite candy, snacks, and movie. He was telling us about how he really likes corn dogs and asked Terri to stock up the family room with more. He told us about how he loves to eat candy and his mom was lenient and let him – his favorite being ring pops. He also loves spicy snacks like Flaming Hot Cheetos and Takis. I told him about how I could only eat half a bag at a time and Franklin laughed, he was boasting about how he can eat a whole bag.
His voice soft and reluctant to open up to strangers, he warmed up to us and invited us back. So we got those snacks and came back the next day (on our free time) and hung out with him for a few hours. We watched a movie, I believe it was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (live-action) and talked. He told us about his family and his life, how he loves to cook – he told us about how he makes the best fried chicken and knows how to make it really crispy.
We sat with Franklin while he told us about how he wanted to become a doctor when he grew up, how he planned on playing football with his brother in high school, how he wanted to go to Disney again and again.
Franklin told us about the future without hesitation and dreamed about what it would be like to be at Rollin College. He asked us about our relationships, friends, classes, lives, etc. He even invited us back with our significant others, we planned a whole day of lunch and movies and board games.
When James and his girlfriend showed up at the hospital, however, Franklin had been feeling better and had been discharged. In early January, I received notice that he was back in the hospital, and today I received notice that he had passed a few weeks later.
I cannot even begin to tell you how I feel. James and I literally told Franklin that we’d be his big brother and sister, we’d be his mentor. I was ready to invest so much in Franklin, not because he was a sick cancer kid, but because he was a normal kid with a lot of extraordinary in him. He was smart, caring, transparent, honest, and sincere.
His life was full of things I could never imagine, but all he ever wanted was to play football with his brother and go to school and be a doctor someday. He was just a kid. He was just a kid that was really brave, that opened up to James and me.
Sometimes life deals you a hand of cards that suck but you can still play them. That’s what Franklin taught me. Life sucks but it’s life, it’s valuable, so you might as well eat hot Cheetos and kick your feet back and watch tv.
You rock bud. I hope you’re resting peacefully.
If you want to learn more or support Base Camp, please visit http://www.basecamp.org/ for more. It’s a wonderful organization that continues to provide “wishes” and make miracles happen daily.