I will be running through the grass in the backyard of my childhood home. My little feet bare and scrunching down the short grass. I will pretend to fall beneath the weeping willow tree and you will pretend to catch me. We will lie on our backs looking up at the branches. We will wonder why the tree is so sad that it has to weep. I will hold your hand and you will smile and tell me about how my life will be when I grow up. You will explain that you will die at fifty-five and leave me alone to manage my world and decipher its mysteries. You will lie there beside me in the shade and tell me that I will have strength, and although I will not see you, you will be holding me up with the light you wished for me when I was just a baby. Soon you will tell me that it’s time to stand and we will get up and walk hand in hand to the edge of the grass where the driveway starts and I will step onto the hard grey tar. I will look back at you questioningly. You will smile, shake your head no, and let go of my hand. You will stay forever in that garden for me. You will water the pink roses in those big round pregnant pots that line the garden wall. You will shovel soil beneath the blue chrysanthemums. Your hands will stay young and your face will hold the smile that squints your brown eyes. I will tell my children about their grandmother who loved to garden and spent time amongst bright purple flowers. I will tell them how you lay with me beneath our weeping willow and we watched the soft tentacles sway back and forth as sun to shade made speckles on our faces. I will see you there, Mommy, and that is where I will hold you. And in holding that, I will feel full and empty at the same time.
I’ve been thinking about my mom lately. I have been wondering about how my life would be different if she were still alive. If she were still here to wrap me in velvet words or show me the way over the speed bumps, hills, or mountains. I miss the love that lived between her outstretched arms and in the whisper behind my ear. I miss how her face smelled of Lâncome when she was ready for sleep. Her presence was a feathered cushion where I never had to ask permission to rest my head. I took the lessons that she gave, I stacked them high upon each other and I often stand on them to climb over my difficult days.
Today I imagined her in her beloved garden. I remember soil that clung to her jeans at the knees and how when she walked it would sprinkle down onto the grass. There was something big about her connection to the earth and the way she knelt before her plants as if in prayer. She prodded and pruned and fertilized. I don’t know much about gardening. I know that I’m not very good at it. I know that all my flowers are white. I know that I like neatly trimmed square hedges. I know that bamboo stalks grow fast and wild, but I love them because they seem orderly when clustered together.
Sometimes when the sky hangs low and dangerous and I am alone, I become a child again and my mother is nearby. I ask questions. What is the garden of my life? What needs to be cultivated, pruned and fertilized? I look up and wait for the blue to come. I know that soon petals will open wide and flat to the sun. Veined leaves will be coated in warmth and promise. I will be watered with wisdom and answers will be found.
For now, I am learning to plant something new. I am bringing in square flats of impatiens. When I carry them the soil sifts through the plastic containers like dark brown flour. I place them down on the concrete and then I take out the flowers with my bare hands so that dirt gets under my fingernails. Then I make little holes in the soil and pat them firmly inside. They are fuchsia and orange and look perfect beside my white flowers.
Thank you for allowing me to speak my truth. Feel free to comment below.
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