Lahquaviah Q. Harris almost made it to the prom.
That's what the 18-year-old Albany High School senior wanted most as she slowly lost her battle to muscle tissue cancer.
The prom kept her going at the end, even after she dropped out of school as a year of chemotherapy ravaged her body.
Her godmother altered her silver wedding dress to fit Harris, who was known as Qui to family and friends. Qui got matching silver shoes, a corsage and a wig. She even had a date, her 15-year-old brother, Raquad Graham.
When she was admitted to the hospital for the final time on May 16, she had one wish: that her brother attend Albany High's prom at Birch Hill in Schodack.
Before Qui even thought about the prom, she had one other goal. She wanted to be the first in her family to graduate from high school in many years, her mother said.
Sonya Hines said math was her daughter's best subject in school, and she wanted to use that knowledge and her interest in cosmetology to open a salon someday.
Cancer changed all that.
After her diagnosis in February 2006, Qui met with guidance counselor Kimberly Baker and said she wanted to keep up her studies. Qui was determined not to miss her senior year even though she was weak from chemotherapy.
"She was a little bit of a thing," Baker said. "Tiny, but strong-willed."
Qui had her schoolwork sent home. She got a tutor. She talked about the future, one without cancer. She did not make a fuss. "Her only complaint was how it was affecting her mom," Baker said.
A trip to Walt Disney World sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation in March with 13 family members and friends rejuvenated her. It took her mind off what doctors told her: that they could do nothing when tests showed the cancer had returned, Baker said.
Qui focused on the prom even though she knew she was dying.
"She was definitely a fighter," her mother said.
Qui was in intensive care while her classmates danced through their last high school memory.
Her brother and her best friend, Sa'Rhea Ross, took pictures of themselves all dressed up, just as she requested. They rushed to a one-hour photo development store and sent the pictures to the hospital, Hines said.
They were one of the last images Qui saw before she lost consciousness.
Her corsage was next to her hospital bed when she died on May 19, prom night.The silver dress and the shoes were at home.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Whether you're graduating from 7th or 8th grade, high school, or college--- it's a sentimental, special time you'll never forget. I recall once speaking with an elderly man from down the street, near the end of his time here, resting under a shade tree on a hot summer day. "I lived a good life," he told me that his fondest memory was graduation from his high school class, which happened just a few months after he met the girl of his dreams, his wife, way back in 1927. Part of the sentiment surrounding graduation involves you and the kids you grew up with, all taking a new step forward. Once in awhile, someone gets left behind, doesn't make it all the way to the end of the year. From the weekend's Albany Times Union: