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Never Upon a Time

| Wednesday, October 1, 2014

They say that when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. You’re supposed to see everything you were and everything you could have been.

Tiffany died when I was in high school. It’s a personal reflex of mine to “see” people’s lives. Thus, I constructed my mental narration of Tiffany.

In a flash, I can see that Tiffany lived. She was 81 when she wore a hat that said, “I’m a survivor,” though she refused to be defined by chemotherapy’s pricks and needles. Her grandkids loved her almost as much as her doting daughter, Charlotte, who laughed exactly like her grandfather.

She was 50 when she finally won her district’s congressional seat, one that she would go on to hold for five terms until her health forced her to retire from politics.

She was 45 when she performed CPR on her friend’s husband, a technique she had been itching to use since her days in Girl Scouts.

She was 33 when she met the man she would marry and have four children with.

At 29, she wrote and published her first book in a series of adult sci-fi spy novels that would evolve into a successful live-action film franchise. She played the lead.

At 22, she graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in film, television and theatre with hopes of becoming an actress or a producer.

She was 20 when she studied abroad in Athens, Greece. She discovered how much she loved the color white when it was paired with red and yellow flowers. When she returned to the U.S., she decided to minor in art to channel this newfound perspective.

She had just turned 19 when she helped take care of a fellow classmate after a house party. That night, she promised herself she would never get drunk.

At 18, she played the most important volleyball game of her high school  career and spiked the winning point. The University of Illinois offered her a full scholarship. She was forced to decline it after a car accident took her left leg that same night.

She was 16 when she got her wisdom teeth removed, just two days after she went to Quebec with her mom for her birthday. While she recovered in bed, she started writing and entering short stories in high school writing contests. She won one. Her story was about a woman cyborg who went undercover for a covert agency.

She was 15 when she performed in a community theatre production of “Hello Dolly.”

She was 14 when she saw her first Broadway show, “The Phantom of the Opera.” She began to coach herself to sing like Christine Daae, an innocent act that cost her parts of her vocal chords in her early twenties.

When she turned 13, she saw her first crush kiss another girl, Molly, who had publicly mocked her speech impediment during a spelling bee.

At ten, her father told her she had his eyes and her mother’s mouth. She asked if that was a good thing. He chuckled and replied, “Maybe.”

She was eight when she experienced her first kiss with the boy next door on a tire swing while sucking on ring pops. He said she puckered too much.

She was seven when she befriended the shortest girl in her first grade class.

She was four when she first saw a grey wolf at the local zoo. Its breath fogged up the glass, making her giggle with delight.

She was two when her mother noticed her speech slurred with “s” words.

She was 11 months old when she took her first steps.

She was two months old when she was baptized.

She was two minutes old when her mother first held her.

She was born.

She was aborted.

Tiffany was conceived.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

About Emilie Kefalas

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