I am honored to stand up here today with Dhruv to talk about his twin brother Arnav Krishna. The outpouring of support to the Krishna family has been felt deeply and it is wonderful to have all of you here today to celebrate his life and legacy of “Relentless Positivity and Hope.”
I am unable to talk about Arnav without talking about Dhruv. A twin’s bond is something special and these boys are special to all of us. Arnav and Dhruv were both fighters from birth. Born premature and 6 weeks early, the boys began their life together with a unique bond with their parents Nitin and Sunita as their first cheerleaders.
Born as identical twins, they looked so much alike, there were but a few distinct marks that helped people to tell them apart. The white streak in Arnav’s hair from where his IV had been placed when he was an infant, the small birthmark on Dhruv’s face.
As they entered school at Swain at age 3, Arnav loved blue so that was his identifying uniform color...Dhruv got stuck with red even though he didn’t love it but didn’t complain. (He also didn’t want to wear the gray sweatshirts all the girls wore) They were “Swain lifers” and participated in everything from writing celebrations, soccer, musicals, received academic honors, and were always all in! They swear they only switched places on a couple of occasions when a substitute teacher was there and all of their other friends were in on the joke.
Mrs. Stout was blessed to teach Arnav for two years in both PreK and Kindergarten.
Arnav loved playing chess with Mrs. Kelly, his friends, and his brother Dhruv whenever they had an opportunity... between learning letter sounds and math facts of course.
Arnav wrote in an early “All about Me” book that he wanted to be an artist when he grew up. Dhruv thinks this quickly changed once he realized he’d probably make more money some day as a doctor.
I first got to meet these two smart and spunky boys when they entered the 5th grade classes of Mrs. Rodriguez and mine. This year was a special year for the both of us and we saw firsthand the strong bonds of friendship between a very special group of students including the Krishna boys.
Since the boys were never placed in the same classes from KG through high school the boys admitted that they would copy each other’s homework and get “advice” on tests if those tests were taken on different days.
At Swain, we were all sad to see Arnav and Dhruv go, but knew they were in great hands as they headed to Moravian Academy to begin the next step in their journey.
Soccer, School work and strategic Kindergarten chess play were not the boys’ only talents. Both boys began cycling when they were 9. They were talented, and others saw something in them, and before Nitin knew it, they were both literally biking circles around him. They began biking programs and one thing led to another and years later with practice and determination, they both became Nationally ranked cyclers.
Arnav was an endurance guy on his bike which was his specialty. Dhruv, the sprinter.
Before Arnav was diagnosed over 2 years ago, they were preparing for Nationals. As a family, they decided to participate in the Cancer Society bike race. They all were racing well together until about 60 miles into the race. Nitin cramped up and didn’t feel he could go on. He wanted the boys to continue without him, but Arnav would not leave his father's’ side. He was leading with his father behind to make sure he would not fail. Both Arnav and Dhruv carried him through and he would not have finished the race without them. 2 months after the Cancer Society bike race, Arnav was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.
Life changed forever for the Krishna family and the next two years would be filled with the best medical care possible, doctor’s appointments, surgeries, chemotherapy, as well as “Relentless Positivity” from a young boy who continued to smile through the struggle.
Kind, Generous, Gentle, Empathetic, Fighter, Friend. are all words to describe Arnav. We could all only hope that some of these words would be used to describe us if others were to do so. Arnav...well he encompased all of them.
Dhruv and I decided there are also a few more words to describe Arnav...these include
Die-hard Eagles Fan: If you didn’t like the Eagles...he was going to try to convince you to like them...actually to love them. He argued as to why they were the best team, debated teachers, friends, parents of his friends and was even heard saying recently “There is always time to convert to an Eagles fan...it’s never too late.”
Another set of words to describe him:
Picky Eater: Arnav was picky with food to the point where he could have lived on goldfish crackers, watermelon sour patch kids, and a Wendy’s kid meal plus a junior burger. He did this to get the fries and drink and a bonus burger. Dhruv didn’t have the heart to tell him that the combo meal was probably cheaper and gave him more food. He ate the occasional lamb chop, steak, and pasta with pesto but it was far and few between. He’d eat a frosty but not a milkshake, and while I couldn’t get him to dip a french fry in his Frosty..I still will work on Dhruv.
Through all of the pain and the treatments, Arnav always could keep us laughing. Obsessed with knowing what his numbers were for heart rate, oxygen levels etc. his doctors at CHOP told him not worry about numbers and that was their job. Arnav joked with them that he needed to know his numbers because in his words “I’m an Indian and Indians like numbers.”
Arnav and Dhruv had planned ways for how Arnav’s last moments on earth would go. On Friday morning as the ambulance was preparing to leave CHOP to head home to the many friends and family ready to greet him, he jokingly... like a scene in a movie…. held Nitin’s hand and mumbled the words “I hid the million dollars in the…” as he put his head down and closed his eyes. Nitin and Sunita did not get the joke and he and Dhruv laughed and announced that they were a pathetic crowd needing to explain the irony to their parents.
You may be surprised to know that Dhruv and Arnav both have many snapchat streaks with friends, but there were NO snapchat streaks shared with each other- They decided it would be really weird sending a streak and having the same face sent back to you.
I promised Dhruv he wouldn’t get in trouble for sharing that for years straight they would game each night on their iPads playing games like Clash of Clans or watching movies all night long while keeping it secret from their parents as they quietly slept. Those hours spent together were pretty special but now even more special.
Arnav enjoyed beach vacations because he loved being with friends. Many memories were made on the boardwalk where they could go to play mini golf where according to Dhruv Arnav was pretty bad so Dhruv always won.
Every spring break brought great memories since they always went away with friends...some I am not allowed to share according to Dhruv since we are in a church. Let’s just say Turks and Caicos will never the same.
In addition to hours of PS4 Marathons with friends, Arnav competed in the Junior Nationals this past summer. The race is grueling for any athlete, but little did he know that the pain he experienced was 20 times greater than any athlete’s pain due to his cancer being back.
Arnav made it through many obstacles. He was determined to have his final wishes come true. He was able to attend the 76ers game and make it home because he was most comfortable there. When I asked him what he wanted when he got home, I’d have it there for him. He could have asked for anything...Arnav asked for company.
Arnav and Dhruv’s grandmother shared that one night she was resting on the couch in their living room. While still awake, she could feel a blanket being placed over her while she rested. It was Arnav. He thought she was sleeping and wanted her to be cozy. She pretended to sleep by keeping her eyes closed but it meant so much to her that he went out of his way to keep her warm.
I’m sure we can all think of a time when we could feel that he cared for us.
For those of us who were able to be with Arnav on Friday, it was heart wrenching and beautiful all at the same time. Arnav made sure he had a personal conversation with each and every one of us. Making some of us laugh, some of us cry, thanking us for the little things, and reminding us of things we may have forgotten. Arnav while about to leave us, went out of his way to thank us, and ask us how we were.
Arnav had the ability to have people drop everything and come together just by the nature of who he was. When Arnav came home on the ambulance on Friday to a sea of friends, the door opened, he lifted his arm and said “yes, I made it”
Although Arnav left us here on earth on Friday evening, Arnav did make it.
He made it to a place where there is no more pain,
He made it to a place where we can be with him again,
He made life better for others,
he made us want to be more like him,
he made us want to love one another more today than we did yesterday,
he made us want to be around him,
he made us want to take care of his family,
he made us want to find a cure,
he made us feel special when we were in a room with him,
he made this world better for being in it
he made us smile,
he made friends come together,
he made his teachers, friends, family, parents, and brother Dhruv proud.
I will miss him greatly, but I want to make it through my time on earth like he did, with “relentless positivity and hope for a better tomorrow.”
I want to be more like Arnav when I grow up and I hope you do to.