Katie remembers last year, when she was four. Daddy came in after a day of mowing the fields, shouting, “They’re gone! The dandelions are really gone!” He seemed happy, but his words made Katie sad. She loved the dandelions. They were buttery and summery and made great necklaces and crowns. “Don’t worry,” Mommy had assured her. “Dandelions always come back.” And Katie believed her.
Sure enough, this year, just after her fifth birthday, the dandelions started popping back up again. This year Daddy didn’t mention dandelions. He just sat with Mommy, holding her hand. Katie heard the word “cancer” a lot, but her mother kept smiling. “I’m stronger than your Daddy thinks,” she whispered, when Daddy couldn’t hear. And Katie believed her.
This morning Daddy was crying, and Mommy was very still. “She’s gone,” he said. “Your Mommy is really gone.” His eyes hung deep, like storm clouds over the fields. Katie wanted to tell him that it would be all right. Dandelions always come back. Mommy would come back. “I’m strong like the dandelions,” Mommy had said. And Katie believed her.