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For those of you who have been following Jule's story for awhile, you rock. And I also owe you an explanation for her AWOL-ness. I've been working on a couple of other writing projects that have taken me away from that story, and I think it's time to share one of them with you.

Apple Dates

This is a project that's very close to my heart. I wrote it for a friend who's dealing with cancer. His story inspired me, and I wrote Apple Dates with parents in mind. What does that conversation look like - telling your child that you have a very serious illness? Honestly. I don't have a clue. But this story came to me while I was at work one day too strong to ignore.

So here it is.

It's written in three parts. Please keep in mind that this is very much so a work-in-progress, and I am completely open to any feedback you have. So please feel free to share it.

Here's Part I.

I eat apples with my daddy. He said if you put an apple in the ground, it grows into a tree that makes more apples.

So we eat apples. Then we bury them.

After school, every day, we go some place new and plant our apples. He calls it our Apple Date. Sometimes we have red apples. Today they are green.

Green ones are my favorite. They make me laugh because they remind me of the tennis balls that Checkers, our dog, chases. I like to imagine him digging up our green apples after we bury them. His white face all dirty and an apple in his mouth.

But we don’t bring Checkers with us ever – or even Mommy. This is mine and Daddy’s time.

Daddy and I go to the park today. He takes me to a bench that sits in a field surrounded by trees. It is new because we used to ride bicycles here so I know.

Two shovels, two apples and two bottles of water. Daddy always brings those things on our Apple Dates. He hands me an apple. I can’t wait so I bite it right away – crunch – just how I like it.

“How do apples turn into trees, Daddy?”

He thinks about it and says, “Well, apples have seeds in them. They are in the middle part that you don’t like. See them in the core?” He takes a big bite of his apple and shows me the seeds. “If you plant them and everything is just right, roots start to grow. Then the tree will start growing. First, it’s real small, but with lots of water and sunshine, it can become a big tree that makes more apples.”

“I want a whole field of apple trees! Red ones and green ones so that everyone can eat apples with their daddies.”

Mommy says my imagination runs away with me sometimes. I guess it does.

I imagine a big meadow on a hill with lots of trees and red and green spots on them. There are so many apples it smells sweet everywhere.

The sky is big and blue. Sometimes puffy white clouds of all shapes go in front of the sun and make shadows in the meadow. But mostly it’s sunny. There are little girls and daddies on benches and picnic blankets in my meadow. Just eating apples and talking about silly things.

Daddy pokes my arm. “You still with me, kiddo?”

“Yeah. Just thinking about my apple field.”

“You have good ideas, Lizzy Girl.” He likes to call me that sometimes. I know I am in trouble when he says my full name.

“Don’t stop having good ideas. It’s how you make your dreams come true, you know? If you don’t have ideas, you can’t have dreams.”

“Like what dreams, Daddy? Do you have dreams?”

“I did. I guess I still do. For you. I dream that you’ll always be my apple blossom, and that maybe one day you can have apple dates with your kids.”

“Will we always have apple dates, Daddy?”

“If you want to.”

“Good. I want to.”

“They might not always be like this though, Lizzy Girl. They might be different.”

“That’s ok, Daddy.”

“I’m glad that’s ok. We might have to have our apple dates inside sometimes – like when it rains – even if it’s not raining.”

Daddy stops. I put down my apple. He looks sad.

“Sometimes I might not be able to have our apple date. Promise me you’ll still go though? You can take Checkers. Then you’ll tell me all about it. Ok?”

“But why, Daddy?”

He looks really sad now, and I start to feel sad.

“Do you remember when Emily Collins was out of school for a long time?”

“Yeah, she was really sick, but she is back at school now.”

‘Well, I’m kind of like Emily was. I’m sick, Lizzy Girl. I might get sicker, and I might not be able to go outside if I do.”

Daddy never gets sick.

“It’s not like when you have a cold. But I might get really tired and won’t be able to do a whole lot.”

“Will I get sick, too? Can I catch it?”

He chuckles, “No, you won’t get sick – especially if you keep eating your apples!”

“Ok, Daddy. I will always go on an apple date, and I promise to tell you all about it if you have to stay inside. But you have to promise you’ll eat an apple too if I’m not with you. That way we both have apple dates.”

“I promise.”

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