Shirley rubs the young girl’s head. She is sickly, wrapped in a warm blanket. Shirley strokes her auburn hair. The little child smiles and says, “Why did you bring me to this park?”
Shirley pops a lemon lozenge and says, “Do you like all the autumn leaves before you?”
“Yes. The forest is glowing with fall excitement. It’s so strange. Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year but once the leaves fall it’s wintertime.”
Shirley strokes the young girl’s cheek, “Yes. Do you know why that is? “
“No”, the sweet pink mouth whispers.
“Because you’re dying. You have an advanced form of cancer; one of the most beautiful things that the Great King ever invented. You are withering and soon shall die. The reason the leaves turn all those beautiful reds, browns, yellows, oranges and pinks is because death is beautiful. After winter comes spring and all the leaves sing. Why should it be any different for death? Shouldn’t death be heralded by beauty? The crispness of fall is like death pinching you on your little cheek. Soon, you will stand up and you will no longer feel frail but strong and you’ll see that autumn forest yawning before you. And the fall leaves will smell like spring and yet autumn at the same time. And you will strip your clothes from your body and run naked into the autumn forest and you will never come here again nor would you ever want to.”
The little girl smiles and says, “Why do the leaves turn those colors?”
“Well, for many different reasons, dear child. But the one I hold dear to my breast is that Buddhist monk’s robes are brown, orange and yellow, symbolizing the leaves of autumn. And like the leaves of autumn that one day must fall, you should be like them. One day let go and fall slowly to the floor below.”
And with that the wee child coughs one last time and shutters no more.