After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With every good-bye you learn.”
― Jorge Luis Borges
Calendula is October’s birth flower. Calendula, also known as pot Marigold, is an annual flower belonging to the daisy family. It’s name came from the Latin word calendae which means “little clock” or “little calendar” which could also mean “the first of the month”. They said that the flower was named as such because it usually blooms at the beginning of the month.
But the month of October reminds me of another thing, another flower, one that was made of latex. This was the month my mom was taken away from us and the flower she last held in her hands was a flower made from balloons.
I remember asking someone, in one of my momentary attacks of flight of fancy, to teach me how to make balloon figures. I saw him perform in a room full of children and I was totally enthralled. Impulsively I decided, then and there, that I should learn how to do it and, even though it took me two months of serious training (never mind my frayed nerves that resulted after popping at least a hundred balloons just to satisfy my teacher’s high standard), I feel that it was all worth it. A random decision and an opportunity made.
For five years we fought the disease–tried to at least, and despite the many struggles that could’ve maimed and defeated us, we held on. God was faithful. He never left us, continually filling us with strength to carry on and to fight until the end.
A week before she died, we were gathered around my mom as usual. The only difference was my 3-year old niece’s presence inside the hospital room with us (thanks to her mom who wrapped her up in a jacket and smuggled her in under the nurse’s strict watch). My mom and I had been staying there for months and we had been terribly missing the little kid. Since I had my air pump and some balloons with me, I asked my niece to hand her grandma the flower I made and, even though my mom was in troughs of pain, she opened her eyes, smiled down at her and thanked her effusively. That was the last time they saw each other and the last time they spoke.
I admit that there are still things about that time that I still couldn’t talk about even with my family. Some things are just too painful to share. I was given the privilege to stand with my mother to fight the battle with her and I saw first hand how the sickness slowly took her away from us until she was barely the same person I knew at birth. It was a memory that I would probably keep until the day I die but I am forever grateful that I was given the chance to at least fight until all possibilities were exhausted.
And now it’s October again and I am once more reminded, not of the sadness the last days of her life brought, but of the brave woman who loved and gave so much. I miss her and I long for the day I would once again feel the warmth of her embrace.
We love you Mommy. 🙂
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18