• Jerry L. Burrell

Cheryl & Melia

Day 12 of my 21 day writing challenge


I don’t remember how I met Cheryl, I am just glad that I did.


She was a teenager who’s spunky spirit could not be held back by the side effects her medication was producing in her body. She had a type of cancer when discovered they considered terminal.

Her aunt was her guardian and her love for Cheryl was infinite.


I am sitting in a hospital now as I write this (I am fine) and I find myself thinking about Cheryl and kids like her. I think about how much time she spent in the hospital. She was there more than at home some weeks. It's been some time since I've thought of her. Partly because it makes me sad and partly because I knew her for only a short while and have limited memories of her.


I met her when I was at my prime. Full of health and optimistic about the future. I really wanted to do something more than give her a t-shirt or get her a player’s autograph or invite her to a Rockets game.


I was working on this dunk at the time that I hadn’t quite mastered. A front-flip with a full twist dunk. It occurred to me that it’d be really cool to name the dunk after Cheryl and perform it at the game that I invited her to.


I wish I could go into detail about how it was an important game and how during a call-in to the radio station on game-day, when asked if I was doing anything special, I talked about this Cheryl-dunk I had planned. I wish I could go into detail about my preparation and what led up to the performance and what happened after but it’s a blur.


I’ve swept it under the rug where memories go on vacation. Maybe they’ll come back but for now I can only conjure up her smile and her essence and how she made me feel…..and the Cheryl dunk that I ended up missing.


She said she was OK about it and thought it was just cool to have been a part of the adventure. At the time, being full of myself and wanting to do something bold that I wasn’t quite ready for, I took it hard. I thought she was just buffering her true feelings so I wouldn’t feel bad.


Now, as I think about it, I really think she was OK with it.


On the one hand I was just some guy in a costume who flipped at the Rockets game and wanted to do something cool for her but on the other hand I was also someone who she knew without the mask and I really took to her and she to me. We enjoyed hanging out being silly with her Aunt. She had bigger fish than my missed dunk to fry and as much as I may have been a joy to her, she was multiples of that to me.


In some cases, as in hers, terminal does mean terminal. I am glad we crossed paths. She was courageous and sweet and she laughed when I told her I might spell the dunk Share-all instead of Cheryl because she seemed to share-all her love with everyone.


Just a few weeks ago we sent a young lady a t-shirt and some autographed pictures. It was her birthday and she was going to be spending it in the hospital. When she was released from the hospital, her mom went live on FB so we could watch as she opened her cards and gifts from friends and family and people like us who just wanted her to know that we appreciate her strength and perseverance and that we are rooting for her.


Her name is Melia and I recently found out about a way to let her parents know that I am rooting for them as they face overwhelming financial responsibilities. I’ve learned that a little from a lot of people goes a long way. Allow me to introduce you to Melia: https://www.gofundme.com/medical-expenses-for-melia-teofilo


I remain grateful for my health.





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