There she was neatly laid out in a white coffin, laced with white lace. She herself was dressed in a white frock with pink roses around her waist. She seemed at peace. Her eyes were closed and she was upright. Almost as if she was asleep. Except that I had never seen her sleep. When Apple was awake she was talking. She talked about her friends in the neighborhood where she lived, a dog which was so friendly that it always wagged its tail at her, her drawings of little fairies and the imaginary stories she weaved about them. She loved drawing fairies. Especially the ones with sparkly wings. She loved drawing them out in her note book and giving them all detailed clothes and accessories.She always had new drawings to show me, each time I visited her. I could only see her when she came to the hospital for her chemotherapy. She braved it all. All 17 cycles the first time. The cancer came back giving her a brief respite from treatment. Long enough to have a taste of being back in school for a month. She went through another 5 cycles of chemo, a surgery when they removed her rib and another 4 cycles to make sure that the cancer was nailed and it would not come back. But it did. Less than a month of her last chemo session. Before you knew, her lung collapsed and so did she. All in a matter of ten days after the PET scan revealed the metastasized cancer.
I had a premonition that she would not be around for long. Some one once told me ‘follow what your heart says‘ and that is what I did. I planned a visit to the city where she was, to give her a pep talk one last time, spend a day reading a story to her, or find out what else she had drawn or maybe even meet the friendly dog that wagged its tail. But it was not to be. By the time I reached the airport, I got the news.
It was not easy to see her lying all quiet and still in a coffin. Not a place for a bubbly little girl full of promise. Her life had not begun at all.