Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Purple Petunias

For years on Mother’s Day, my son, Zach, would ask my mom and dad to take him to the garden store so he could get me a plant or hanging flower basket to put in the front yard. This year was the first Mother’s Day without Zach and it was very hard. However, my daughter Brenna, gave me a beautiful hanging basket with purple petunias (with the help of my mom and dad, of course) for Mother’s Day and it helped bring a smile to both of our faces as we shared memories of Zach.

I got rather depressed and busy in July and forgot to water Brenna’s beautiful gift. Brenna cried when she saw the wilted, dead flowers. I apologized and felt like a failure as a mother. I couldn’t keep the flowers, or my son, alive. I left the basket in the front yard, not having the energy to throw it away. Also, it brought back memories of Zach’s last Mother’s Day present as I looked at the empty basket all Winter and early Spring as I yearned for Zach.

Suddenly, about a month later, there was new growth in the basket. The plants grew quickly and more flowers than ever emerged on the young plants! We were all stunned. Brenna and I believe it is a sign from Zach that he is well and watching over us. Maybe a sign that he died and has been reborn?

As Fall came and it grew colder, the basket of flowers hanging on the opposite side of the front porch slowly wilted and died as the plant could not take the freezing temperatures at night. However, the new purple petunias are still alive and well. We have had several hard freezes so far and the plant is sturdy and flourishing, although it did lose a few flowers. Today I decided to take the plant inside to repot it. It is so special, I can’t bear to leave it struggling in the cold all alone.

I have been told from several books I’ve read and from people in my grief group that the process of grief is grueling, hard work. I’ve heard it compared to a dark ravine, which you must move through and emerge at the other end. I’ve heard that by going through this “ravine” you endure much pain, loneliness and that part of you dies. I’ve been told that when you emerge from the other end of the ravine, you are a new person. You are stronger and able to overcome life’s difficulties and are able to flourish and live life more fully.

I don’t know. I haven’t emerged from the other end of that horrible, rocky, ravine filled with peaks, valleys, dark tunnels and sharp rocks. I have had glimpses of the other end. I see faint light off in the distance and my suffering is eased now and then by the beauty of a blue sky, a peacefully gliding bird, or a sturdy, flourishing petunia.

November 15, 2008
Barb Dreyer

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