From Tulip to Child

One of the hard truths about having terminal cancer is trying to figure out what you can leave as a legacy to your children. Having very young children means that there is a real potential that I may not live long enough for them to truly remember or know me. This is an absolutely terrifying possibility for me. I so desperately want to be there for them. To let them know everyday how special and unique they are. To give them the unconditional love that we all have known from our mothers. My children deserve that. Saying that, I cannot control my fate. I may live two years, I may live ten. During this time I will have to capture every possible opportunity to love and cherish both of them.

So that they may know me, who I was as a child and who I am as an adult, I have started to document moments of my life through stories. The following is one of those stories.

tulip fairy me

As a small child I believed in fairies. I used to spend hours gazing through a colourfully illustrated flower fairy book I had been given by my godmother. I used to imagine myself as a flower fairy. Everything was magical then. The world had endless possibilities. When ever I wanted to, I could transform the environment around me with my limitless imagination.

The fairies of my book were all dressed like flowers. My favourite was the tulip fairy. She had a skirt made up of red petals. My favourite colour was, and still is red. I imagined that the fairy could in an instant turn herself into a tulip by lifting up her petaled skirt around her head. This is why, I reasoned, it was rare to see a fairy. Potentially, in every flower could be a magical creature.

I must have been no older than three when it occurred to me that I could turn myself into a flower. I remember feeling so proud of myself as I displayed my magical abilities to my parents. My parents reacted as all good parents do, by rewarding my cleverness with encouragement and praise. Then, reacting with surprise when the girl hidden in the flower would reveal herself, “Wow, have you been there all the time?” they would ask as I lowered my dress from above my head. “I thought you were a tulip.” As such, it makes sense that I believed that everyone would be able to see the world I saw.

I remember my mother, one night, dressing me up in one of my favourite dresses. It was green and plaid and pleated around the neck. I was told to behave myself as my father had a special guest coming for dinner. I was a very shy and timid child and I remember hiding behind my mother as I was introduced to my father’s boss and his wife. I hung behind in the background for most of the night as the adults discussed as grow-ups do. At some point it occurred to me that my father’s company might appreciate a mystical transformation from tulip to child. I proudly gathered up my dress. I stepped into the center of the room, in front of the coffee table, and lifted my dress up over my head. I was just about to reveal the girl hidden in the flower when I felt the firm hand of my mother. She quickly pulled me off to the side and returned my dress to its rightful place. I remember feeling confused and wondering why my magic trick had not been received with the usual acclaim I had enjoyed before.

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