My mother’s solution to most things is to buy fresh flowers. If something wonderful happens, she brings flowers. Something terrible happens, flowers again. Someone is really sick? Hey! More flowers! I’ve grown accustomed to her flower buying habits, but it’s still a lovely surprise every time.
Things have been so quiet around this part of the Internet for a bunch of reasons. The season I’m in the midst of has been one of the most trying, exhausting, frustrating, and soul-sucking times of my life. It’s been far from joyful.
So the other week, after admitting yet another defeat, my mother brought me flowers. (I think she also brought me creamer for my coffee which doesn’t make much of a difference to this story, but it’s never off topic to talk about coffee, amirite?)
I cut my flowers, put them in a vase and sighed. Fresh flowers – tulips, especially – in the middle of winter are wonderfully cheery.
But then everything got worse. I got sicker. Any resemblance of peace in my brain shattered. I stayed at my parents’ house and crashed. Hard. Nearly a week later when I returned to my apartment, I found this:
I had completely forgotten about those sweet tulips. My first reaction was to laugh and take a picture (clearly that’s the best single girl Valentine’s Instagram picture ever). My next reaction was to sigh (I do that a lot lately). Those flowers looked exactly how I felt. Droopy. Sad. Worn out. Sick. I was just done, and I’d be lying if I said there was even the tiniest bit of hope in my heart.
I looked a little closer and realized that those flowers weren’t actually shriveled up and dead. They were sad and droopy and weak, but not dead. So I grabbed some scissors and began cutting off the long stems and paring back some of the leaves. Maybe they were salvageable. I had to throw one floppy wet noodle-like flower in the garbage. I put the sickest ones in a tiny mason jar on my bedside table. I cut the rest short and put them in a juice glass on my coffee table. They still drooped, but they weren’t quite as dramatic as before.
I went to bed with a heavy sigh (see, there it is again). When I woke up in the morning, the sick little flowers beside my bed were standing up a little straighter. Just a little. The bunch in my living room looked a little more upright, too. When I woke up the morning after that, the tulips looked like this:
They weren’t droopy. They certainly weren’t as full as they were before, but they were alive and thriving (tulips continue to grow even after they’ve been cut…resilient little suckers!). That night when I flopped into bed, I looked over at the three little flowers standing tall beside me. Then I heard that unmistakable small voice, one I hadn’t heard in quite awhile:
“You’re not dead, sweet girl.”
I’m not dead.
I am tired, I am sick; I am droopy and exhausted. But I am not dead! There it was: the tiniest glimmer of hope, beautiful and pink, standing in a vase next to the place I rest my head.
Now I begin a difficult and lengthy process: cutting back, scaling down, throwing away the unnecessary, disposing of the sickest parts of me. It’s not pretty, and it’s not going to look so great for awhile, but there is the tiniest bit hope that is beginning to grow.
I am not dead. There is life yet to come.