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Dear Peg Kehret

Annaleigh Eason
Hutchison School
Memphis
4th - 6th Grade
3rd

Dear Peg Kehret,

My name is Annaleigh Eason, and I'm twelve years old. In fourth grade, my class read your book Small Steps. While we were reading, my teacher, Ms. Maxwell, was lead to tears. I felt a very strong connection to this book because the year before, in third grade, I became ill with a rare disease, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which paralyzed my body from my neck down. My family thought that it was just the flu, but it turned out to be much worse; while I was home sick, I got up from my bed and went downstairs. On the way down, my legs went numb and I collapsed. All I remember was my mother crying as she drove to the emergency room. This was the scariest experience of my life. 

Your book brought me back to a time in my life I had tucked into the back of my brain. When my class finished the book, I was left with the feeling of both sadness and relief; sad because the book made me remember my illness and all the trouble my family went through, relieved that someone else had gone through some of the same things I had.

My doctors did not know what to do to help me because a lot of them had not dealt with a case like mine. Special doctors were sent in to examine me. I had whole teams of doctors struggling with finding a way to heal me while I was having trouble moving. My sister, Evey, and I came up with a way to communicate, one blink of my eyes meant yes, two blinks meant no. Other than those small movements, I could not move at all. About a month after, the doctors worked together and I became stronger. Now there was one last problem: I had to learn how to walk again. When the nurses helped me stand up, the bottoms of my feet felt like they were numb and burning simultaneously. 

In the book, you write about your mother and your family. My family was distraught when they found out about my illness. My sister wanted to be in the hospital 24/7 with me, whereas my brother was very closed off from me. Later, I asked him about what he was thinking when he first saw me. His response was that there were tubes and machines hooked up to me all around my body; he thought he was losing me, so he did not want to see me in my "last days." My brother is usually not a very emotional person, but at this point in our conversation, I could see that he was close to tears. 

I remember going to church when I was better after many months of rehabilitation and being greeted by many people I had never met before. They all came up to me, hugging me and saying what an inspiration I was to them. As a small nine year old girl, I was puzzled why people cared so much about me and my "hospital time." I learned that people across the country knew about me and prayed daily for my recovery. You and I don't know each other, but I'm writing to tell you that I experienced that feeling again while reading your book, the feeling of not being alone. 

Thank you for letting me realize that no matter what I go through, other people have always been in my shoes, feeling the same emotions I felt. 

Sincerely,
Annaleigh Eason

2016