When Bob and I started Smile Books Project, the goal was to help as many children as possible by giving them a smile that has been taken away due to illness. Mostly, the children themselves have the illness. However, that isn’t always the case. While presenting at a school about another book we had written for a cancer fighting young girl, a teacher approached us. His wife had been diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer shortly after having their first child. He explained:
“The outlook then was not very good, but she has been responding to treatment fairly well over the past three years. Her biggest fear is that she won’t always be here to experience life with our daughter. When I was listening to you talk today, I was just thinking about how awesome it would be for her to write a book for our daughter filled with life’s lessons.”
So, that’s what we did. I met with Tiffani and Lilian, her daughter, for an interview. We talked aboutTiffani’s life growing up, going to college, getting married and having a baby girl. We talked about being sick and how everything she does, she does it for Lilian. The surgeries, the treatment, the medicine: she uses the unselfish love of a mother to get through every moment of her disease. We parted ways, and I was tasked with the project of making sure a little girl would always feel the warmth of her mother. Heartbreaking? Yes. Impossible? Not in the slightest. It’s hard not to be inspired by Tiffani when she writes things like this:
“Today marks four years since diagnosis. I am so happy since I wasn’t sure I would make it that long. When I was told it was cancer, many tears were shed for a good week. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t be able to see her graduate from preschool. Now it’s looking like I will unless things take a turn for the worse. I already checked to make sure her school does a preschool graduation. You better believe I am going to make a big deal of it: flowers, cake, family over…”
Smile Books Project is proud to present Lilian’s Light. It was written by a mom, for a mom and in the name of all moms everywhere who do whatever it takes to love their children.
Sarah Curry Rathel