Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CROWD (07/06/17)
- TITLE: A Lily in the Garden
By Jennifer Rubino Champion
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He nodded in agreement so I stepped forward and stood next to the curtain. Although I have spoken at many events, this was my first time to speak at a Womenâ€™s Conference. I took a deep breath, said a quick prayer and walked out after I was introduced by the host. With an uneasiness in my steps, I approached the front of the stage and put my notes on the podium. I looked out into the audience and thought for a moment about what to say about finding love. It was the topic I had been given by the producer to speak on tonight.
Stage fright isnâ€™t in my vocabulary but I am sure that is what the audience and the producer were thinking at that moment. My eyes were darting back and forth through the people spread out before me but then I accepted the fact that he was not there. My husband for whom I was searching was elsewhere.
â€œGood evening and thank you for allowing me the honor to speak to you all tonight about finding love. My speech was the end result of countless early morning hours spent writing it over stale coffee and several bowls of my kidsâ€™ sugary cereal. After all the work put into writing it and practicing it in front of my bedroom mirror, I have decided not to use it.â€ With that statement, I picked it up and tore it in two.
â€œInstead, I would like to tell you about my own personal experience with finding love rather than some textbook speech about what it should be or all that it can be if you try hard enough. See, my true love was not found by assistance from a self-help book. For me, it was found at the doctorâ€™s office. A year ago, my husband who is not here tonight was diagnosed with Alzheimerâ€™s disease. Hearing those words were like taking a punch in the gut. â€˜Why Lord?â€™ was all that I could pray in the days and weeks that followed his diagnosis. Then, one night I looked at him sitting on the couch. He had a lost look on his face and even though he was staring at the television, I could tell he wasnâ€™t watching it really. I knelt down in front of him and put my head in his lap. I cried. For several minutes he just sat immobile as though I wasnâ€™t even there and then, he took his hand and ran it across my hair. He petted me as I cried. When I looked up at him, he was looking at me too and he smiled. He asked me my name. I cried harder at that point because this man that I married who once was so strong and sure of himself now did not know my name. I smiled between the tears and told him, â€˜Lilyâ€™. He smiled back at me and said, â€˜You are my favorite flower.â€™ After that moment we had together, he began to call me Flower and to this day that is what he calls me.â€ I paused because it was a memory so sweet that I found it hard to continue.
A tear fell on the podium as I went on, â€œAs I left him at the house tonight, he asked me where I was going. I told him that I was going to speak to people about love. He grasped my hand and said, â€˜A garden is a place filled with lots of pretty flowers but you are the prettiest flower of them all.â€™ Even though there are days when he forgets who I am and that we are married, he always thinks I am the prettiest flower in his garden. To fill his days now, he has planted a garden and in it are rows of lilies. He has taken up painting and all he paints are lilies. Our home is filled with his artwork. These things are all daily reminders to me that true love exists. Don't go searching for what you think true love should be, instead be ready when it finds you."
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