SEATTLE -- By taking a change, putting aside fears and stereotypes, three eighth grade girls discovered an unlikely friendship.
"I seldom get visitors," said Tim Owens from his bedroom at Bailey-Boushay House in Seattle where he receives residential care. "The days turn into one day into the next."
All alone in the world, and without anyone to talk to, Tim is also in pain. So much pain that it hurts to get up, and sometimes all he can do is stay in bed, close his eyes, and hope for better days.
But today is one of those days.
Bridget Simmonds, Allison Horn and Stephanie George are like angels to Tim, three eighth grade students who bring him something that numbs the pain -- companionship, laughter and love.
The unlikely friendship developed all because a teacher had an idea, hoping to open the girls' hearts and minds and to open their eyes.
"I could have said, 'No, I don't want to do this, I don't want to go to some hospital and meet some person with AIDS, I don't want to do that, I'd rather hang out with my friends,'" said Bridget. "And I would have missed this whole experience."
"It wasn't until they came that I started getting a hug on a regular basis," said Tim. "They don't think it's anything but a hug, but to me, it's life."
With every moment the girls spend with Tim, they've learned that something so simple -- a visit -- can mean so much.
"We didn't know that someone so sick with so much sadness in their life could look so happy," said Allison.
"I was just happy that I could just touch somebody's heart like that," said Stephanie.
That is what keeps the girls comping back to Bailey-Boushay every few months. Visits are never a chore, but just the opposite.
"I just come here to have fun," said Bridget. "I just come here to visit a friend."
The girls know Tim doesn't have much time left. Every goodbye could be their last. Which is why, despite the pain, despite the strength it takes just to get out of bed, there's something important Tim has to do.
On one of the most special days in a young person's life, Tim made the journey to see Bridget, Allison and Stephanie graduate from eighth grade at Holy Family School. For the first time in a long time, Tim feels good.
"I feel included, I'm not alone, I'm in a very good place," he said. "I couldn't imagine missing it for anything in the world."
This is Tim's way of saying thank you to the young women who give him a reason to keep going.
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