“Write about the flowers,” she says. “Write about how I always miss the flowers.”
My mother loves the spring.
She will wait for the colors to start sprouting, first the yellows and then the pinks.
Every year, her heart expands as the blossoms dot her vision, even while her throat constricts.
“See all that yellow?” she says, “it’s pollen. It’s beautiful pollen.” And she clears her throat and makes another appointment at the allergist.
“Write about the flowers,” she says when she finishes reading one of my gut-wrenching, heart-stopping posts.
My husband takes pictures of bugs. He gets as close as possible and takes the most amazing pictures of bugs on flowers and then he sends them to my mother.
“I want to make it into a puzzle,” she says. “It would be so calming to sit and put together a puzzle full of yellow pieces.”
She likes to do puzzles. It helps her mind slow down. She can sit for hours piecing together thousands of little cardboard colors. It makes her feel like she can fix things.
“Today, I planted,” she tells me when I call to find out how the latest scan went. “I was on my hands and knees in the cold and I cleared away so many weeds.”
We hang up because she has something else crowding her mind so she can’t continue our conversation.
I don’t know the results of the scan but I can see the bulbs fighting to survive.
“Ma, it’s so green here,” I tell her. I am looking out over the hills and all I can see is lush green and I wish she could see it.
“I always miss it,” she says. “I always come when the green is gone. It’s brown when I get there. I never see the flowers.”
She comes in August every year. She walks the streets alone, she gets to spend time with her grandchildren and she wishes she could live here. Sometimes she brings a puzzle and we sit for hours, peering at the little bits of sky or sea or grass.
She hasn’t been here since the diagnosis. She missed two Augusts.
Only two, but it feels like a lifetime.
“Maybe I’ll come this year,” she says. “Maybe I will finally see the flowers.”
We talk about April, maybe some of May.
“It’s a beautiful time,” I tell her.
She looks at the calendar.
“Shavuot is in May,” she says. “It will always be that time of year.”
She will miss it again this year, and every year after.
We need to go to a different place of green in May. We will stand in that quiet place and we will probably see the flowers.
When the grave was dug and they were lowering my baby sister, we saw little purple flowers lining the inside of her eternal wall.
Maybe they grew up towards the surface and when we stand around her grave we will see some pushing through the earth.
“Write about the flowers,” she says.
Of course, Mommy, I will write about the flowers.