Learning Love, Loss, and How to Plant Flowers

flowers on ground

“In Loving Memory…”

So begins the piece of writing that is refusing to finish itself. On this very difficult month, me and many of those I love are facing the same dilemma so many millions before me have grappled with: We’re trying desperately to find the answer to the question “why?” and attempting to make sense of our lives after having lost someone we held so dear.

The difference is, this time it’s my loss. This time death actually feels real.

Now, I realize that’s a very heavy way to open, especially considering that the intention of this blog is to inspire. But sometimes the inspiration is found in healing, and in honesty. And in writing these words so candidly, this is my time to be honest–and to heal. Read them if you like, move along if you don’t.

Here’s the honest truth: Over the past few weeks, I’ve been kind of a mess. Actually, QUITE a mess–leaving my desk at work in tears, taking out my frustrations on those I care about the most, struggling to get anything better than fitful, nightmare-filled sleep, and pretty much living in what feels like a hazy cloud. To be honest, I don’t really know if it’s normal to grieve like this.

Hell, I don’t even know what normal is these days.

But I am coming to learn this: Processing grief is never black and white, though death most certainly is. (Quite ironic, it seems, because this beautiful, magical woman lived her life in color.)

And another thing I know is that even with the pain, there is grace, there is beauty, and there is recovery. I believe this. (At least, I’m trying to.) From times past, I’ve seen old give way to new, and learned that the more devastating the loss, the more elevating the redemption.

That’s why I’ve been planting flowers. Quite a lot of them, actually. And lately, I’ve been making things (lots of things: art, music, poetry). As if the creation of beauty might serve as some way of reversing the disappearance of it.

Specifically, however, my hands have been in the dirt for the better part of the last two weeks. I’ve been planting seeds, buying flowers, and letting myself feel rich soil between my fingers, soil that holds so much promise for growth. It almost feels like the mere act of planting is symbolic for the growth I wish could occur when you put something else in the ground, someone you love.

And oh, was she loved.

But like the blooms that appeared prematurely on the trees this spring, she came into the world, too anxious. And when the cold April winds came, she left too soon, like the petals on the blooms of the branches, so fragile. It seems hardly fair.

And speaking of what’s “fair,” at 18, how do you begin to write your mother’s obituary? This is another question I ask myself as I try to support the sweet young girl who I watched grow from infancy to the beautiful young woman she is today, when it feels like I am falling apart. But when I look at her, I see her mother’s eyes. When we talk, I hear her mother’s laugh, and feel her mother’s love–kind of like the continuously blossoming tree that, despite the cold, has brought forth life.

That too, THAT is inspiring.

While none of this may be “normal” or “black-and-white” or “fair”, what in life really is? I’m beginning to realize that sometimes the best (and only) thing there is to do is hold the ones you love so very close and appreciate every precious moment spent with them.

That and plant flowers. Lots and lots of flowers.

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