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Dandelions and Daffodils
I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was the last time I saw her. She wanted to play for a bit. She wanted to get away from all the monitors with their incessant beeping, the nurses and there smiling faces, and the other children. I remember she called them zombies; I remember chiding her for such an ill-mannered remark.
“It’s true,” She told me, “they aren’t alive, not really. They’re just bodies, like me. Walking, breathing, lifeless bodies.” I remember it all so well. She then grabbed my hand and stared at my face. Her large brown eyes sucked me in; it was hard not to laugh at her. Her eyes were too serious for her tiny carnal face, head topped in a Tweety bird bandana and arms like sticks that just barely poked out of an oversized pink gown.
“Let’s go, please.” She didn’t have to say where, I already knew. Together we untangled her from her wires and monitors; then we stole a pillow case to tie around her waist so she wouldn’t trip over her gown. I told her it was a splendid disguise. Carefully I crept towards the door to glance out the window. The coast was clear. Silently, her hand slipped into mine and rushed down the hall back tracking several times so as not to run into anyone on the staff. She loved it, sneaking out. She loved the feeling of being in her own little world, the idea that no one knew where she was. I played along, but I’m sure she know I informed the nurses yesterday of our outing.
Once outside we got on my bike. It only seated one so she sat on the handle bars. She called the space her “universe” seat. I remember her telling me how free she felt there. How she could feel the kiss of the Universe on her cheek¸ she felt special there so there I let her remain eve as I worried that she might fall.
I pedaled for two miles before we reached her favorite place. We arrived at a meadow, Peak’s meadow. Flowers of all kinds littered the meadow like ants on a crumb. There she smiled and laughed like she used to. The weight of the world floated from her small shoulders and she was free. The change in her was practically tangible.
“Race with me.” She said grabbing my hand as we hopped off the bike. Running had never been my favorite activity but for her I ran. It seemed as if we ran forever but it was only five minutes. After five minutes I had to stop her. I remember how she wheezed and gasped for breath, but I knew she would have kept going. She could have ran until her legs were numb; she probably would have. Running made her happy.
Then she plopped on the ground, her skinny legs gracefully folding underneath her dress. Sickly as she was then, she could still move with the flowing grace that only belonged to children of her age. Smiling, she patted the ground beside her and I sat.
“Look,” she called to me pulling my arm to get my attention. “a daffodil!” her smile reached from ear to ear and her eyes sparkled in delight. I remember trying to hold in my laughter but I couldn’t help it. It bubbled over. In her hand was not a daffodil but a dandelion. The white puff ball tickled her nose.
“Dandelion.” I corrected pointing at the weed.
She looked at it, and then she looked at me. “Same thing” she shrugged.
I rolled my eyes jokingly. “Daffodils are flowers that make the air smell good while dandelions are weeds that use up all the water so the daffodils can’t have any. Huge difference.”
“Same thing. Both are pretty.” She located a daffodil off in the distance and gazed at it a while. “Same thing. Same thing.” She repeated to herself softly.
“One thing dandelions are excellent at,” I whispered conspiringly. “is granting wishes.” Then I plucked a weed for myself, closed my eyes and made a wish. When I opened my eyes the seeds were everywhere. They bathed her in a cloud of white and I saw her eyes pool with tears. She knew my wish and how it wouldn’t come true. Deep in my heart I’m sure I know it too. A heartbeat later, she smiled. Crying wasn’t on her list of things to do today.
“Help me with this.” Carefully she pulled the weeds from the base of their stems. I remember being slightly confused by I grabbed the dandelions anyway. After a while, we stopped and she began to tie the dandelions together. I stretched out and watched. Her fingers moved expertly along them as if she were playing a musical piece. When she finished she held up a crown of dandelions out to me proudly. It seemed to wrap around itself at least three times with giant puff balls decorating the outside rim. It was beautiful really, a work of art I called it.
“It’s for you. A wishing crown.” Then she placed it on my head. “Keep it will you?” I nodded my agreement and we laid down on a bed of flowers and weeds…pretty things. As the sun set she turned to me. Her eyes said the words her lips refused to speak. I smiled at her again to let her know it would be okay, then I grabbed her hand and we headed for my bike.
On the ride back, both of us were silent. Her eyes dropped with sleep and I wrapped her in my arms as we walked back to her room. As I laid her in her bed her eyes fluttered open.
“Staywithme.” Her mumbled words ran together but I knew what she asked. Together we cuddle on her bed. She was sleep before the nurses entered to reattach her to her machines, I soon followed.
That night she died. I remember it as if it were yesterday.