g o l d e n.
It’s that time of year. Marigold season.
This time last year we had no idea that Florence would be gone from us in a month.
I heard marigolds were finally in bloom, and everything inside of me wanted to hop in the car and find them. I felt drawn to them.
So, in the evening, I couldn’t wait any longer and I drove to our local grocery store where they were stacked outside the door.
I saw them from afar, thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me. Anytime I see a yellow or orange flower my heart skips a beat. But as I approached, I saw the unmistakable golden hues radiating from the dirt.
They were in bloom. They were here.
I felt myself running towards them. She wasn’t really alive in these petals, I told myself. She wasn’t really in these marigolds.
But as I picked them up, stacking them in my grocery cart, I felt my lips trembling with emotion. She wasn’t here. But this was what I had. This was a living thing that symbolized the life of my daughter. And every year, around the time of her death, they will come back into bloom, and they will die and we will pluck them from our garden and wait for the cycle to continue.
I’m convinced that gardening is holy work, be it in a garden plot or ceramic pot.
I brought those long awaited marigolds to my nose and inhaled deeply. A silent, guttural sob came out of me, and I turned my face from the shoppers milling around beside me. I let myself be in the moment.
The smell. The colour of the powdery sky at dusk. The birdsong.
The spring evenings remind me of her, because she died in the evening. A few days after her death, I remember staring at the sky, feeling the buzz of summer just around the corner. It was evening, and my grief was astoundingly painful. I remember the cool air, the feeling of the damp earth on my feet, and the dark, deep hole in my chest. She is not breathing this air. The very air that I’m breathing, she is no longer inhaling and exhaling it. She has always been a part of me, tethered by the cord of life, breathing with me, inside of my womb, and then outside as we cuddled chest to chest, and finally, with her BiPap machine. The constant hum of the machine comforted me every moment of every day that she was connected to it.
She has always had breath, and now she did not.
It felt absolutely insane to me that the world was continuing on, the birds were still singing, the sun was still setting, my heart was still beating, and she was not breathing in this west coast air. I stared at the sky until my eyes blurred and my neck ached and I had whispered her name a hundred times.
I look for her everywhere, in everything. I tell Teddy to find her. She owns the butterflies (sissy’s butterflies) and the flowers and the chickadees, too.
But mostly, I look for her in the marigolds. I crush the petals when I miss her unbearably and the smell of them brings me right back to that evening. She died with marigolds in her hands and behind her ear.
It has been a long winter. Someone crocheted me a marigold flower, and another kind person send me marigold pins. But there is nothing quite as comforting as seeing the little seedlings sprout and watching the blooms give back all summer long.
I believe a little bit of her spirit comes alive in these flowers.
Someone once wrote me:
Flo had changed how I view marigolds and monarchs…do you ever wonder if in the beginning when He was going over the blueprints and the billions of stories that were yet to be told and lived out that God chose to make marigolds and monarchs FOR Flo and her story?
My breath stilled.
Well. Yes. Of course He did.
I am listening to this song on repeat these days. I came across it randomly and it was perfect.
As I plant seeds and marigolds and dig deep into the dirt with my bare hands, I’m humming this song.
I’m grateful for each and every one of you that has planted marigolds in honour of our little golden girl. She is always in bloom, somewhere in the world.