Today I learned of the death of J.D Salinger and Jasmina Amena. Salinger died of natural causes at the ripe old age of 91.
As I reflected on one I could not help but think of the other.
I dare say that most of the Febone1960.net Blog readers have read Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye. I know I read it in Junior High School at a time when it was thought to be improper reading for adolescents.
As I recall, the book’s lead character imagined himself as the sole guardian of numerous children running and playing in a huge rye field on the edge of a cliff. The character’s job was to catch the children if they wandered close to the brink, thus he was a “catcher in the rye”.
Jasmina Amena, a brave six-year-old from Greenwich Village whose fight against leukemia inspired support from thousands of people including myself and the President, died Wednesday night. See A Transplant For Jasmina
She was reportedly admitted to the hospital Monday and diagnosed with pneumonia of her lungs. Her condition rapidly deteriorated after that.
After being diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia last January, she inspired 7,000 volunteers to be tested during several bone marrow drives. She also received support from celebrities including Rihanna, Kelly Rowlands and NBA star Paul Pierce.
On my first thought, I wondered had we all been a catcher in the rye in an effort to keep her from falling off the cliff and if so had we failed at our mission?
You see in May, Jasmina found a near-perfect transplant and a biopsy in September revealed that her cancer had returned. By that point, Jasmina was also suffering from common complication in bone-marrow transplants in which the new cells attack the recipient’s body.
Though her health was failing, she continued to receive well-wishes from thousands, including President Barack Obama, who called her in November.
“The President was nothing but nice and extremely compassionate,” Thea Amena, Jasmine’s mother told The Daily News at the time. “He said he was glad to hear that she’s doing better.
In December, she met the President, a meeting arranged through the Make A Wish Foundation.
Further reflections made me remember that the character’s former high school English teacher told him that it is the stronger man who lives humbly, rather than dies nobly, for a cause. This destroys his notion of becoming a “catcher in the rye,” a godlike figure who symbolically saves children from “falling off a crazy cliff” and being exposed to the evils of adulthood.
We had not failed after all. Jasmina knew nothing but love from all of us who unselfishly reached out to her in her time of need.
If anything, maybe our little Jasmina was the catcher in the rye; her bravery being a reminder to all of us adults not to go off the deep end when we are exposed to the evils of adulthood. Who knows, maybe she was a source of strength for Rihanna.
Goodnight brave little catcher in the rye and may you Rest In Peace.
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