“Tell me a story daddy, please.” My daughter called out just before I
exited her bedroom.
“You sure you can stay awake for a story?” I replied as I moved to her
“I’m not sleepy. Please Daddy.”
“Okay, love. Once upon a time, there lived a Princess named Tiffany
just like you. My Princess Tiffany.” I touched her button nose with
my index finger and delighted in her giggle.
“She was a very pretty and smart little girl. Everyone loved Princess
Tiffany. She was so beautiful and such a wonderful child that people
from distant lands knew of her and loved her. She received many
presents from many passing visitors. Deep in the mountains there
lived a giant, an ugly monster that lived all alone. She was always
chased away from every place she went because she was mean, careless
and destroyed everything beautiful. Some said that the Giant had no
heart and had no love. ”
“That’s sad daddy,” interjected my Tiffany.
“Yes it is and so when the giant heard of Princess Tiffany she was
hurt and angry. The Giant was jealous. The giant marched to the
palace and scared all the people away. Only the king and queen and
their daughter Tiffany remained. The Giant took Tiffany’s toys and
began to break down the palace. The giant picked up Tiffany with her
big hands like a doll.
“We love you dear,” shouted the king and queen from the ground which
was now far below Tiffany. “You are the only one who can stop the
giant now. Be strong and let your love and happiness shine. That is
the only way to destroy the giant.”
I kept quiet for a moment and when Tiffany did not react, I rose
quietly and walked out into the passageway where my sobbing wife
waited. I took her in my arms and held her close as she cried. Every
night I told Tiffany the same story to get her to sleep. It was a
story I created to follow the doctors orders.
“Mr. and Mrs. Friedland,” said the doctor. “One of the best weapons
against cancer is positive thinking. Use metaphors and stories to
constantly reinforce a sense of strength and optimism in your
daughter.” He paused, examined our reactions and then continued.
“The truth is that this time around the chemotherapy did little damage
to the cancer cells I fear that the cancer is going to spread.
Miracles do happen though and right now I think you should pray for
your daughter and keep her positive. There have been cases where due
to a positive mind-set patients have been able to overcome the
disease. Create stories for the child; tell her the story of David
and Goliath or any other story that depicts simple messages about
overcoming big obstacles despite one’s size. ”
Sally, my wife, wept through out the consultation. I am surprised
that she had any tears left. I nodded at the doctor while
simultaneously fighting back my own tears.
“Thank you doctor.” There were no more questions to be asked, no
arguments left. We rose to leave when the doctor said, “I know this
is going to be hard but please try no to cry in Tiffany’s presence, it
will just weaken her spirit.”
“Look at her Sam. Three years she has battled this disease and she
still sleeps with a smile.” My wife’s voice brought me back to the
I kissed Sally on the forehead and lead her to our bedroom.
I am awake still. I am alone. Sally is curled under the duvet sound
asleep. The half empty glass of water and the bottle of sleeping
capsules evidence of the difficulty she experiences every night.
Three years we have lived in limbo. We watched as our daughter
battled with death, watched as her condition improved only to return
with greater severity. Three years has seen us lose every cent we own
to medical bills. Our dreams have all but vanished save one, that our
baby girl will be well again soon and live a healthy life. I watch
Sally, glad that she is asleep. She needs her rest. I cry my heart
out, stifling the sound with my pillow. This is my only moment of
release. When Tiffany and Sally are awake I cannot afford the luxury
of expressing my sorrow and pain. My tears would be poison to them.
They need to believe that I am strong so that they can be strong and
hopeful. To see me breakdown… I shudder at the domino effect it will
Sam is still asleep. I cannot begrudge him his rest. I know the pain
that attacks his heart every waking moment. I know my husband. I
know that he cries himself to sleep every night. Tears he hides in a
macho attempt to preserve some archaic concept of a man.
I love him for the effort though. He is strong even if he cries. He
has been my anchor from the moment we met.
My mother always told me, “Sally there is one important fact about men
that you need to keep in mind. They seem all strong and impenetrable
but they are more vulnerable then women. We cry and scream and share
our feelings, but they carry their pain and sorrow within. They share
nothing and allow their sorrows and hidden tears to torment them.”
I put on my robe and leave my room to check on Tiffany. The light
from the rising sun penetrates the blinds, highlighting the angelic
face of my baby. Tiffany and the giant indeed, another David and
Goliath. My child was fighting a courageous battle but I have
accepted that soon the fight will be over. She has no strength left.
I have not shared this thought, nor uttered it aloud save in my
prayers to God. The irony is I am not sure if I believe in a God
anymore. Perhaps I pray out of habit because I have no faith anymore.
I cannot have a faith in a God that ignores my prayers. A God that
toys with us, giving us hope only to rip it away from us. A movement
from the bed catches my attention. Tiffany is awake she gazes at me
with her enchanting blue eyes.
“Mummy, what’s wrong? Why are you crying mummy?” I ask my mummy.
She wipes her eyes. Mum smiles and then kisses me on the cheek. She
calls me her angel and leaves my room. Mummy and Daddy are very sad.
I always see them crying. They wipe their eyes quickly and say I’m
not crying. I think I make them sad. I don’t know what I did. I try
to smile and be happy all the time. When I smile Daddy smiles too and
sometimes mummy. Mummy always looks sad though even when she smiles.
Everyone says I am sick. I go to the doctor a lot. The doctor is
nice. They told me that I got something called cancer. I get a lot
of injections. They are really sore but mummy holds my hands.
Daddy told me the story of David and Goliath. Daddy also tells me the
story of Tiffany and the giant. I like the story. My name is also
Tiffany. Daddy says that the Tiffany in the story is just like me. I
have to go the doctor today. Mummy and Daddy say that I have to stay
with the doctor for a long time. Daddy told me that he and mummy
would visit me every day. I don’t feel good.
Tiffany is gone. She is gone to heaven. Finally my baby is at peace.
The last month she spent at the hospital was her last month with us.
I miss her, I cannot deny that, but I have accepted reality and have
moved on. Sam is struggling. He goes on day to day like any other
person but there is a chill in his touch where I once knew only
warmth. Tiffany was with us for a very short time but our lives have
changed completely. She gave us joy that we never thought possible
and in her death we experienced the greatest loss and emptiness. I
have made my peace with God, and trust that in time Sam will live again.
I dust the tombstone marking Tiffany’s grave and read the epitaph.
“Tiffany fought the Giant to the very end but left the palace to live
among the angels in heaven, where she lived happily ever after.”