"When I grow up I want to be...an astronaut...no wait...an actress...or maybe a doctor like you daddy!"
He strokes her sweat stained hair as it rests upon her pale face.
"Daddy?" she says, "why are you crying?" He wipes his flooding tears from his puffy red cheeks. "What? Me? I'm not crying. They're tears from how much you make me laugh," he lies.
"But you weren't laughing daddy, and I didn't say anything funny," she coughs.
He gulps. "You're always funny to me cupcake. No matter what you say."
She smiles at her father who drinks in his daughter's porcelain face. She has her mother's ocean blue eyes, the same eyes that hypnotized him when they first met and kept him hypnotized until they closed forever. His daughter's eyes are all that remain on her tiny, fever-striken face, and now, soon they too will close, never to open again.
"Daddy, I'm not going to grow up am I?" she says.
Sobs fill the back of his throat. He couldn't save his wife and, despite all the clinical trials, numerous tests and experimental drugs, he couldn't save his daughter either. He opens his mouth to answer but the held-back sobs find their voice instead. He crashes his face into his palms sobbing, unable to look at his daughter and tell her the truth. She strokes her father's shoulder with her frail, shaking hand and smiles brightly with her big blue eyes.
"It's okay daddy, I'm not scared. Mommy said she was waiting for me up there, and she said it wouldn't hurt anymore."
He looks up at her as shivers vibrate throughout his body. "You talked to mommy?" he asks. She nods weakly. "She visited me in my dream, and she said she couldn't wait to hold me in her arms. She was so pretty, daddy. I wish you saw her. She had big blue eyes like mine." He wished more than anything to see her, to hold her again and have her scent stain his shirts like before. His daughter was a baby when his wife died from the same disease that now encompassed his daughter. He used to show his daughter pictures of her mommy, and always pointed out his wife's big blue eyes. Although, as a doctor and a man of science, he believes that it was merely a fever dream, it oddly gives him hope.
"She had a message for you too daddy," she says. He perks up, intrigued by the words to follow.
"Did she now? And what did she say?" he humors her.
"She said 'it wasn't your fault. That you did all you could to save her and me, and that she loves you. And even though you want to do it, it's not your time yet.' What were you going to do daddy?" He sits up in his seat, taken aback by these words. His daughter couldn't have possibly known what he was planning upon her death. She couldn't have known that he set out to take numerous sleeping pills, now hiding in his pocket, and lay his head next to his daughter's as they both drew their last breath. He can feel his pulse racing. He takes deep breaths in an effort to regain his composure. He takes the pills from his pocket and stares at them. He walks towards the bathroom and contemplates heavily about his next move when he hears his daughter's voice.
He tosses the pills into the toilet and flushes them as he rushes back to his daughter's bedside.
"Nothing now sweetheart," he says, "Nothing. How are you feeling?" he asks, stroking her burning, scrawny cheek.
"Tired," she says breathing heavily, "It's getting hard to breathe. Will you hold me?"
He smiles down at his daughter as he weeps heavily, tears staining his cheeks and lips. "Of course I will," he says, crawling into her bed and holding her tight as his tears crash upon her brittle face.
"Dah-dah-dee" she struggles to say as her breath shortens and she fights for air.
"It's okay, it's okay. I'm here, baby,"he sobs. Her body twinges in his arms as it battles for oxygen only to lose miserably. He sits there, taking in their last moments as he weeps and screams uncontrollably. He wonders what posessed him to throw away the pills. He could have died with her, with them both, but here he sits with his daughter's small and lifeless body in his arms, all because of some words his wife allegedly said from beyond...if there even is a beyond. "Why!" he screams as he rocks back and forth,"Why!" He looks down at his daughter's motionless face and brushes her blonde locks from her small forehead. He's suddenly reminded of his momentary feeling of hope. Hope that what his daughter said was true, hope that she did in fact reunite with her mommy and hope that one day he would join them too.