Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Flowers (10/03/05)
TITLE: A Bunch of Wild Flowers
By geraldine witcher
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It was only a bunch of wild flowers, picked all anyhow and held too tight in a sticky hand. But they brought tears to my eyes and a rush of joy and gratitude I didn’t know how to contain as I hugged my little daughter and thanked her, and God, for the most wonderful bouquet I’d ever been given….
A few months before I would never have imagined that she would ever bring me flowers again. Night after night, sitting beside her hospital bed as she slept, looking at the tubes taking fluids and medicines into her frail little body, hoping against hope, I prayed that she would pull through, that she would one day be able to walk again. Day after day, as she lay there in the bed, I would read to her, show her picture books, bring her bunches of flowers and fruit. She loved it when I brought her roses – as I held them to her face she breathed in and a smile of sweet happiness came over her face. That smile almost broke my heart. She was being so patient, so accepting. The illness had come suddenly. One morning she had woken feeling hot and sick. I thought it was just a ‘bug’ –one of those illnesses that all children get and with a day and home and some extra loving, get over and bounce back into health. But through the day it had got worse and worse until at last, at teatime, I called the doctor. He took one look, pressed a glass onto her skin, frowned and said, ‘Meningitis’.
It all happened quickly after that –the rush through the busy streets to the hospital. The drip set up, lights dimmed, and curtains round her bed. Then complications set in. No one knew why. We didn’t know if there would be permanent damage. Her body grew thinner and thinner and her legs got weaker and weaker. And it wasn’t until six weeks later we took her home again – not well, but out of danger.
It was spring when she came home. We put her bed downstairs by the window, so she could look out at the garden. She liked to see the daffodils and the cherry blossom dancing in the wind. As it got warmer we took her outside and she lay or sat on a rug on the grass. The daffodils died and tulips and then marigolds took their place. Together we planted geraniums in pots to stand outside her bedroom window. Everyday she got a bit stronger, walked a little bit further, but she still got very tired and didn’t want to play. We fell into a sort of routine. In the morning I would spend time with her: sometimes we went into the garden and walked gently and slowly round, looking at all the plants, noticing the changes and smelling all the different flowers. She sometimes looked longingly over the fence to the field where she used to have such fun the year before, making ‘nests’ in the long grass, setting up home with her tea set and leaves and berries for food, collecting all the different grasses or making daisy chains. When I asked if she wanted to go and walk in the field she just shook her head and said, ‘It’s too far.’ Sometimes we walked down the road to post a letter or buy something special for lunch, but even just to the postbox made her tired. Then in the afternoon she rested and I got on with my writing. Often when I had finished I went into her room to find her asleep, of just looking at a book. In the evening we played games or watched TV until her bedtime.
Until one afternoon….
‘Look what I picked for you, Mommy!’ I looked up from my computer. There in the doorway stood my daughter, her cheeks flushed and healthy, her eyes shining, and a bunch of meadow flowers held in a sticky, triumphant hand. ‘I went into the field and all round picking them for you. I’m not tired, at ALL!’
I’ve had lots of bunches of flowers in my time – red roses on Valentine’s day, birthday bouquets, peace offerings after marital tiffs, thank you gifts, but none, not one of them was as beautiful or meant so much to me as that bunch of wild flowers held in my daughter’s hand.
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