The young boys raced down the steps into the unfinished basement. As they put on their skates, they argued over got to play as Mario Lemieux. The younger boy grabbed the nets, and put one at each side of the basement, as the older boy got the hockey sticks out, along with the puck. They played for hours in the world they created.
The older boy was Brenton DeFlitch, who now teaches at Southmoreland. The younger boy, Aaron Rose, was his childhood best friend.
However, when Aaron lost his battle with Leukemia at the age of 9, Brenton DeFlitch found his life inalterably changed.
“I saw somebody from birth constantly getting chemo and needles in and out of him [along with] spinal taps,” Mr. DeFlitch said, “I remember him telling me the pain and going with him every once in a while.”
Mr. Deflitch and his friend Aaron met at day care, and they were really close growing up. They shared an intense love for hockey. Aaron was four years younger, and he was born with leukemia.
When Mr. Deflitch was in 7th grade Aaron went for a bone marrow transplant that was supposed to cure him. The progress was initially successful, but his body rejected it, and he actually ended up dying from complications related to the transplant.
“A lot of growing up is kind of understanding the bigger scope in sequence of adulthood and what its like,” said Deflitch.
Before the transplant, Aaron was at children’s hospital for treatment, Mr. DeFlitch wanted to go see him but both of his parents were busy. He was yelling at his Father to change his plans, and he said we’ll go in a few days, however that was a few days too late. Aaron passed away before Mr. DeFlitch could see him.
“I was really mad at my Father for a long time because I blamed him for not being able to see my friend,” said Deflitch,” looking back it wasn’t my Fathers fault at all.”
Recently with in the last two years Mr. DeFlitch and his wife went to a wedding and Aaron’s Mother happened to be there. In the mean while they haven’t seen each other in about 6 years. DeFlitch said that it was a “little unnerving” at first not knowing if he should talk about Aaron or not. They eventually crossed each other’s paths coming out of the church.
Later at the reception DeFlitch was looking around, he didn’t see Mrs. Rose anywhere so he began to worry that maybe he upset her by bringing back old memoires.
Before he knew it he saw her walking through the doors, she walked up to him and handed DeFlitch a paper book and she said, “Aaron made this book when he was still in school.” He just stared down it was titled, “My best friend”. He smiled as tears ran down his face realizing it was a book about their friendship.
Mrs. Rose and Deflitch shared a moment where they read through the book together, she told him to keep the book and show it to his newly born daughter when she’s older.
“It was nice for me to be able to see her and still have that connection,” said Deflitch, ” and to see she knows I haven’t forgotten the impact he had on my life.”
Even though Aaron was only in DeFlitch’s life for a short period time, the impact will last a life time. Over all he taught DeFlitch the respect of life itself and that was a lesson that took a long time for him to fully become aware of.
“It was something that I was in awh that someone so young had that much strength to get through stuff like that. I took that in my own saying little things I go through life I need a similar strength in knowing that sometimes you have to grit your teeth and get through it things will end up getting better on the flip side of things.”
If it was possible for DeFlitch to spend one more day with Aaron, he said, “I would have to take him to a hockey game, hands down,” said DeFlitch. He said the selfish thing he would want, is for Aaron to meet his daughter and know that she is aware of the impact he had on DeFlitch.
“I make sure every day when I wake up that I do something with that day that I will be proud of, whether if it is just simple as saying hello or opening a door for someone but making sure someone’s day is better, because I am alive,” said Deflitch.