Friday, August 8, 2008


It wasn't hard to find Sidney—all I had to do was locate the gaggle of photographers who were following him from room to room. I pushed my way through them and joined Sid in the colorful playroom on the second floor.

"Hey," Sid greeted me with a huge smile. "Did Connor kick you out?"

"He was tired," I explained. He wrapped his arm around my waist and I tried to ignore the sound of ten cameras all taking pictures of us. "He's a great kid. I want to come visit him more often." I hesitated slightly before deciding to tell Sidney about the plan I had been working out in my mind. "How easy would it be for me to get Connor out of here for a few hours?"

"Hmm, I'm not sure…we'd have to talk to his parents. Why? What are you thinking?"

"How great would it be if Connor could watch tomorrow's night game in Uncle Mario's box?"

Sid brightened. "You'd really want to take him to a game?"

"I would love to. And I could come pick him up in a limo! Maybe I could take him to the locker room before the game starts…"

"Don't get too ahead of yourself," Sid warned me as we left the playroom and followed Petr Sykora and Sergei Gonchar to another room. "Connor is in bad shape, Karine. He's started another round of chemo and he's really weak. We'd need to okay this with his doctors first."

"I want to do this for him," I replied with determination.

"I'll make some phone calls tonight," Sid promised. "But I can't guarantee anything…"


It didn't take much for Sid to convince Connor's parents to let him come to the game with me. He explained who I was and what I wanted to do for their son, and they managed to persuade Connor's doctors to grant him leave from the hospital Monday evening.

When I told Uncle Mario about Connor and asked if he could join us in his box for the Rangers game, Uncle Mario excitedly gave me the okay. He even lent me his rarely used limousine—I was going to pick up Connor from the Children's Hospital at four, and then we would go to the arena to meet the team and then head to Uncle Mario's box to watch the game.

The best part was, this was going to be a complete surprise for Connor. He knew he was going to be out of the hospital for the evening, but he had no idea where he would be or who he would be with.

I fidgeted restlessly in the back of the sleek black limo as we pulled to the curb in front of the hospital. I couldn't wait to see Connor again. The boy had such an infectious personality that it was hard not to love him.

I smiled widely as I saw him, aided by a nurse, walk through the doors and step onto the slushy, snow covered sidewalk. The chauffeur held open the door and Connor slid into the comfortably warm interior of the limo.

"Karine!" he exclaimed, his expression a mixture of surprise and pleasure.

"Hi, Connor," I replied with a huge smile. "How's it going?"

"What are you doing here? Where are we going?"

"You'll see," I replied with a wink.

His smile was impossibly large. "Are you kidnapping me?"

I shrugged. "More or less."

"How did you manage to convince them to let me out of there?" he asked, motioning towards the hospital as we pulled onto the street.

"Sid had a lot to do with it," I admitted. Connor shook his head and his smile grew even wider, something I didn't think was possible. "How are you feeling?" He looked slightly better than he did yesterday, but that might have been due to the color that was creeping into his face because of all the excitement.

"I feel fine," he replied with a nonchalant wave of his hand. "Is this your limo?"

I laughed. "No way. Uncle Mario lent it to me for the day."

"Wow," Connor breathed. "I bet I know where we're going," he said slyly.

"Oh yeah?"

"You're taking me to the game, aren't you?"

"Way to kill the surprise," I replied sarcastically.

"Why are we leaving so early? Faceoff isn't until 7:30."

"I thought maybe we could hang out with the guys for a while before the game started."

"Seriously?" Connor replied excitedly. "Karine, you are so awesome." I smiled and blushed slightly. "So, you're like, my date for the game," he added with a charismatic grin.

I chuckled. "More like you're my arm candy for the night."

"What does Sidney think about that?"

"He doesn't have to know," I joked.

Connor laughed and stared out the window as we approached the arena. The driver pulled up next to the players' entrance and then opened the door for us. I stepped out first, and then hooked my arm with Connor's as he slid out of the limo.


Connor cheered loudly as the final buzzer sounded. The Pens had totally dominated the Rangers, winning by a three-goal margin. He gave me a crushing hug and thanked me for the millionth time. "I haven't had this much fun in so long!"

I laughed and gave him a friendly kiss on the cheek. "I'm going to sneak you out of the hospital again soon. I promise." I loved seeing Connor so happy, so excited. Seeing him away from the monitors and tubes was refreshing…I wanted to do more for him. I wanted to wave a magic wand and make the cancer disappear.

"Would you like to go congratulate the team?" Uncle Mario asked.

"Absolutely," Connor replied as he followed us out of the box. He was wearing a large, bright smile that hadn't left his face from the moment we stepped in the arena. "Really Karine, I can't thank you enough for doing all of this. I had so much fun with the guys today."

I smiled in reply. Connor and I had spent three hours messing around with the team at the arena. His contagious smile and happy-go-lucky demeanor had an obvious effect on the guys—it was like they were kids again. He played pool with Geno, Ryan, and Sid, and even took to the ice at one point to shot around with Ty Conklin.

I was so glad everything had worked out and Connor had been able to come today. The fact that Connor was terminally ill was tucked in a corner of my mind as I walked to the Penguins locker room with him. For today, he was just a regular sixteen-year-old. Like the little brother I never had.

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