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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Flowers (10/03/05)

TITLE: The Fragrance of Hope


She couldn’t bear the smell. Their natural, sweet fragrance was a reminder of the horrible event that she longed to forget. Their beauty was overshadowed, in her mind, by the memory that accompanied the sight and smell of them.

Just five years ago, things had been so perfect. Jill Brooks had it all, a loving husband, an adorable child, and a beautiful home. Then, in one horrible moment everything had fallen apart. She could only recall bits and pieces of that next year. The diagnosis, the wretched disease, and the funeral. The funeral…

The church had been bursting with flowers. Jill couldn’t remember what kind of flowers there had been, only their overwhelming fragrance. The entire day was a blur, except for the flowers. Her beloved gift from God, her only child, had been taken away after only three short years of life on this earth. Jill’s anger, guilt, and anxiety, had led to a desperate depression that had caused her, at times, to long for the end of her own life.

After the funeral, Jill stayed away from florists, and even had a hard time looking at wildflowers blowing in the wind. The memory was crippling. “Why, Why, Why?” She called out to God. But there was never an answer. Jill could feel His steady presence comforting her, but always silence. It was a silence that her chattering toddler had once filled with the joyful sounds of childhood.

Jill had slowly moved forward with her life. She would never forget, but for the sake of her marriage, she knew that she needed to move on. Still, flowers of any kind were strictly avoided. Everyone who knew Jill well, knew never to send fresh flowers for any occasion, because of the crippling memory that was associated with them.

But now, almost four years to the day after the funeral of her beloved little boy, the date that had previously been surrounded by grief and despair, a new anniversary was born. “It’s a girl!” her husband shouted proudly.

Jill knew, as she felt the tears erupt from her eyes that from that moment, things would somehow be different. “Thank you, Jesus,” she mumbled feebly, but with more sincerity that she had felt in a very long time.

The following day, the nurse gently tapped on the hospital door. “Special delivery!” she called. “These should brighten up this dull hospital room,” the nurse bubbled, innocently unaware of her patient’s resistance. On the window sill, the nurse placed a beautiful arrangement of flowers, two dozen brilliant pink roses. As tears filled Jill’s eyes once again, she looked at her husband with uncertainty, then back to her beautiful sleeping daughter.

“At least read the card,” Her husband coaxed.

Jill’s fumbling hands nervously worked the small card out of its envelope. It read simply,

One dozen for each of our children. We will never forget, but isn’t it time to enjoy the flowers once again? I love you, Philip

“…the pink roses represent thankfulness, and the rose leaves are symbolic of hope.” Philip added, sounding like a very young boy, anxiously anticipating his wife’s response.

With that, the evil spell had been broken. For the first time in years, Jill cautiously breathed in the aroma of the roses and allowed herself to bask in their beauty. She knew in her heart for the first time with certainty, that there were happy memories still to be made. Perhaps now the intense pain represented by the flowers could be replaced with a new emotion, a long forgotten, and much needed friend…hope. Jill inhaled deeply and found that the precious fragrance could not have been sweeter.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Beth Muehlhausen10/10/05
Enjoyed being reminded of a meaningful quote: "The Christian life is a series of new beginnings."
Linda Watson Owen10/12/05
Very sweet story of overcoming that which seems unbearable, and once more feeling joy.
Cassie Memmer10/15/05
Out of all I've read yet (and that is most of the entries) your's is the first to bring tears to my eyes. Take this with a grain of salt as I am only a beginner, but I believe this would be just or more effective if you stopped after "...I love you, Phillip." Skipping the rest and only using then the last line, "Jill inhaled deeply and found that the precious fragrance could not have been sweeter." I believe the reader will naturally know of her new found hope and desire to go on. As I said, you're in advanced and I am a lowly beginner, but I've been a reader all my life. :) I think your piece is excellent!
dub W10/16/05
Touches many cords of the heart. Thank you for this meaningful essay.