The white moon glows bright tonight; its pale face glaring down through a cloudless sky. My feet make a shush sound as I tiptoe my way across the dew layered lawn, and I spread my quilted blanket out. The air is drenched in chilly fingers, but I refuse to let myself feel anything but numb, and clench my teeth tight as I stare up at the black space above. The stars wink back at me.
The first time we planted flowers I was five years old. I had begged you for weeks to buy me the orange flowers because orange was my favorite color. Every time we went to the store I pointed at the orange flowers that were purposely placed near the store-entrance to entice kids like me who loved flowers, and you’d shake your head and say, “No, Little Chicken. Not today.” And I’d pout my lips and cross my arms for the next five minutes and stomp my feet as we continued on, until we would go down a random aisle and I’d see some other orange thing that peaked me interest. The final day I asked, we went through our usual routine, but then at the end we went back to the front of the store and you told me to pick my favorite one. So I picked the biggest ones I could find. They costed $4.72.
We went home, and you took me to where you kept the gardening tools and shovels. “Little Chicken, there’s more to flowers than what you see,” and you handed me a garden claw and trowel, and you grabbed a shovel. We carried these tools to an area in front of the house that was secluded off with a brick line, and was overrun with grass and weeds. You began digging in the mess, and that’s when you taught me two important lessons: the first was about God, the second was that nothing get’s done without hard work.
“We have to first get rid of these weeds because if we don’t, then we can’t plant these beautiful flowers. We can’t just pull out enough where the flowers will go, because then the weeds would choke out the flowers and the flowers will die.” You continued to dig up massive globs of dirt held together by the roots of the weeds.
“You have to shake the dirt out. To do this you need to grab a hold of the base of the weeds and start shaking slowly, as more dirt falls out then you can start shaking harder to get more out.” You say this as you show me how to do it.
“Why can’t you just shake really hard at first?” I question. You smirk, as if you’d knew I’d ask that. “Well Little Chicken, because if you shake too hard at first, then the weeds break off and you’re just left with a massive ball of dirt and roots and then it’s really hard to get the roots out. Now you try.” And I grab one of the globs you dug up and shake it like you showed me.
“We shake the dirt out because that’s the good stuff we want to use for our flowers. We get rid of the weeds because that’s obviously the bad stuff. Sometimes God does this to us. We all have weeds in our lives, nobody is weed-free. And those weeds take root in our lives. When we’re ready to allow flowers to take root in our lives instead of weeds we allow God to start digging at us, and to start pulling those globs of weeds out of our lives. At first, He is gently shaking them out a little at a time and then He will shake us more vigorously, until at last the weeds come out and all that remains is the foundation that we need for a beautiful flower to blossom out of.”
We continued on, you digging and stopping every once in awhile to help me shake the dirt out of the weeds. After three hours, we finally finished weeding and planting and watering the flowers. It’s one of the few memories I’ve cherished as I grew up, because although you could have done something in an hour, you chose to spend three hours on it to teach me a valuable lesson, one of the many you taught me throughout the years.
I can’t help but think of those flowers now as I look up at what He created, and wonder what lesson I was supposed to learn after you took your own life. Too many questions and not enough answers ring inside my head, but the stars don’t provide any answers.
“You got my attention, if that’s what You want,” I say between chattering teeth. A breeze brushes my face that has a sweet aroma of flowers. Tears of shame and anger glide down the side of my face, I’m full of frustration because I know you’ll never come back.
“You never taught me how to be strong from a death, and that’s not fair,” I say in hushed voice.
The orange flowers grew back the following year, but years later they eventually died because I stopped tending them as I grew older. You never yelled at me, nor told me it was my fault, but I knew that deep down inside it pained you to see the mass of weeds overtake the arrangement that we worked so hard on. Eventually, you went through and planted Daisies and orange Tulips; they still grow there.
It suddenly hits me, the day you took your life was your final lesson for me: life is too short to waste. Life is too short to live in the shadows. And even though you never fully allowed God to remove some of the weeds in your life, it’s important for me to live life to the fullest. Sometimes God speaks to us in mysterious ways, and even though I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again, I know what I have to do while I’m here on Earth