Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Inner Strength (04/20/06)
TITLE: Abandoned Seeds
By Karen Rice
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Loose on the pavement, they were escapees from one of the envelopes on display containing flower and vegetable seeds for the ambitious positive-minded gardener.
My daughter loved to dig in the soil, hunt for worms, chase down ant trails, offer her body as a launching pad for butterflies at rest. She'd eat veg-a-pa-tols only if they were raw, grown in the garden. Most of all, she loved flowers.
The first spring she was born, I constructed a sunflower house for her. Trenching out a hefty square shaped frame among the lawn, I planted giant sunflower seeds, dwarf sunflower seeds in front of them, and left a small opening seed-free as a 'doorway'. Two weeks later, planted more seeds in-between.
I'd take Lisa outside, spread a blanket over the square piece of grass and weed the frame, talking to her.
As the plants grew, we shared the blanket inside, she watching mesmerized as the soft early summer breezes shimmered soft greens to dance. Cross-legged, I'd sit, cradling her as she nursed, her eyes growing wide following the heavy burnt-orange umbrella flowers protecting us from the sun.
During the worst of summer's heat, I'd sprinkle the walls, and then once more, sitting inside, she'd dare to crawl, grab hold of a close by wide leaf and shake liquid diamonds to spray, squealing with delight.
I took for granted that this would be a tradition, passed on when she became a mother herself, a place where grandchildren could delight.
Lisa died two years ago. She was five. It matters less the means, for there is no salve available to mask the intensity of a heart free-bleeding, searching for what is no longer there.
Her digging bucket, a barrette, and a spoon she 'borrowed' from the kitchen drawer are still on the back porch. A spider tries to claim it as home, but every morning, out of habit I check, remove webs, any sign of home.
I am at the store, because I've run over the garden hose with my car one to many times, although I haven't watered the yard in months. Seems easier to toss it, start fresh. Why did wind up the old hose and stick it in the garage? Images of Lisa chasing me down with the hose are still fresh. I forget sometimes, and smile before overtaken by tears.
The single seeds are sunflower. Something stirs, I catch my breath. I stoop, pick them up, and drop them in my jean pocket. Purchase a hose. Drive home. Sit in the car, staring at the out-of-control weeds surrounding my house. When did this happen?
One step at a time, took two days, these three seeds.
I planted them in three tiny clay pots.
Placing one in front of Lisa's digging bucket, one on each side as sentries, I'd sit on the back porch step, watch the tenacious spider investigate to call all home. Just as tenaciously, I'd carefully guide the insect to my palm; shake it from my fingers onto a nearby ornamental plum tree.
As fragile threads of pale green poked through the soil, I'd cry, ranting over why the same hope was snatched from me.
Tiny pots were exchanged for larger, and each plant grew hardy, strong. They grew tall, topped off with heavy burnt-orange flowers to umbrella over a well-loved digging bucket, yet even as their bright faces turned to the light, this hope-for comfort could not lessen my deep, intense sorrow.
Autumn was closing in; I bent the stocks down, seeds heavy on the dry flowers, and gently guided them over the bucket. Waited for the flowers to completely dry, worried over the spider interloper.
Placing a paper bag over each dried plant, I shook loose each seed, and then moved through winterís haze.
Spring came quietly, whispering.
I dug a squared frame, memory over another time, planted seeds, waited two weeks, and then planted more.
Spread Lisa's favorite blanket in the middle of the grass.
Curled up in a fetal position, I'd wake, my face wet, listening to God brush up against the stalks, feel the wings of butterflies, and count the treasure-trove of diamond tears shared through a sprinkling.
It was here, under a cerulean sky, framed within this life, God held me close, reminding me of the value of His precious loan.
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