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True Friendship Lasts Forever

True Friendship Lasts Forever

My name is Sayers Collins and Connor Cruse is my best friend. Losing your best friend is
never fun, especially when you’re both 8 years old and the reason is from numerous childhood
cancers. Thankfully I usually can remember the happy and joyful memories of our friendship,
whether it was running around his family house up in Oklahoma with our plastic lightsabers, or
running around each other’s neighborhoods with our plastic lightsabers (notice a theme here?)

Although the good memories are plentiful, the pain I felt on that July 10th afternoon was
something that sat with me for many years and really shook me to my foundation. My faith was
questioned, my happiness as a child was robbed, and the life I was expecting with Connor was
taken from me just like it was with so many others. I spent the next several years in constant
emotional turmoil, fighting panic attacks and mood swings due to the trauma. I spent my high
school years fighting off depression as I passed through milestone after milestone creeping up
on adulthood.

The joy I felt playing high school baseball was immense, but knowing I wasn’t playing baseball with Connor, something we did every spring and summer together, really hurt. The
The same goes for every vacation, life event, and experience that I was lucky enough to live through, I couldn’t help but think about how a better person than me was- for some reason- robbed of.
Connor, through all his treatments and pain, always was radiating his big smile and amazing sense of humor. He also wasn’t afraid of letting the light of Christ and his faith shine for all to see. I remember seeing the many lives Connor affected during his battle with cancer and never
really understood the value of that until my college years.

I asked, “why me” and “why them” plenty of times after Connor’s battle with cancer ended. As much as I felt the sting of losing my best friend, I wouldn’t dare try and compare it to the pain of losing a brother and son. However, as the years went by, I saw the Cruse family let the same light that Connor had, shine through them and the work they did with TeamConnor. Here I was sitting miserable and bitter for so long with a “woah is me” attitude while the family who lost their own was out sharing the Gospel through Connor’s story.

Digging through my things while packing for college, I stumbled upon one of my first
TeamConnor wristbands. It was bright green and in blue the words beating childhood cancer
were almost rubbed off. Without thought, I slipped it on my wrist and carried on. As I ventured through my college career with baseball, I began to accumulate awards and recognition. As the recognition grew, I was always asked a similar question, “what’s with the wrist band?” The bright green wristband usually stuck out in my navy and baby blue uniform. That then clicked the reason for all the pain and suffering I had been through for so long.

The love and joy that the Cruse family was showing out there was not fake, nor was it
taking away the real pain and suffering they still feel. Romans 8:18 says that the current suffering we go through is God unlocking something in us. The pain of losing Connor was not some punishment for him and those around him. So many amazing things have come from the
pain of that trial. TeamConnor has been at the forefront of fighting childhood cancer and helping so many other people in their fight, the Cruse family has been a cornerstone in not only the church but the north Texas community. I then felt some funny sense of shame, like I let down my best friend for not using his story as a means to spread the Gospel and fight for others.

I can’t help but think back to the story of the man who was born blind, where the disciples asked Jesus who sinned to earn this punishment, and Jesus said “neither this man nor his parents, but for the works of God to be shown through him.” The pain we all felt on that afternoon as Connor went away with Jesus hurts. It still hurts today, and part of me will never understand why an 8-year-old boy with a bright smile and a loving personality will be taken from this world, but in the Book of Revelation 2:14, John says that God finds us worthy to suffer.
God chose all of us to suffer so we could unlock his meaning for us to use our platforms to fight back against childhood cancer and spread the love of Christ just like Connor did.

To conclude this over-complicated message, God found me worthy enough to go through what I did and suffer because God had a plan for me to one day gain those accolades on the baseball field, not for my own glory, but that someone would ask me what my green wristband meant, and that I could share with them the story of Connor Cruse and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.