Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Life Petals

Not long ago I was reading one of the installments of a blog of a dear friend of mine. Her name is Lisa Brandel and her blog is titled The Widow Lady, in which she chronicles the story of a loved one battling and ultimately dying of a grim disease. Although sad, her story is also gripping, realistic, honest, at times funny, bittersweet and always profound.

Lisa's blog has often prompted memories of my own of family members who have fought long, debilitating illnesses with dignity and inner strength. I was writing a comment on one of her posts and said something along the lines of,

"This has always made me think of watching petals slowly falling from a flower."
That phrase stuck in my mind and kept surfacing in different ways, to the point that I knew eventually I would write more fully about this concept.

Those of us who are romantic, or have children, are familiar with the story of "Beauty and the Beast". Depending on which version of the story you have read or viewed in movie format, the Soul of the Beast is represented by a flower, or a blooming bush, or blooming tree. As Beauty fails to see past the outer visage of the Beast, with each disappointment sustained, another petal from the flower falls.

The more I turned these seemingly unrelated points over and over in my mind, the more interconnecting points began to fall into place. Who among us, in the first flush of love, or secure in a lasting relationship hasn't felt replenished, our spirits renewed and uplifted by the attention of that other person? I have always held a mental image that relationships are exactly like that Magical Flower, but my image is one of the flower constantly being renewed. Certainly, disappointments, illnesses, arguments and other difficult experiences strip the petals away or crush the delicate surfaces, leaving unsightly bruising. Yet, with time, patience, understanding and love, the fallen petals are replaced, the bruised petals are healed and the flower stands proudly, lush and vital.

Could it be that we each have different flowers for each relationship, different flowers for various levels of physical health? One specific type of flower for friendships, another for family, yet another for work relationships, still more flowers that reflect our state of bodily health, and finally, that one special flower for the most deeply personal connection with that loved one. There is certainly a Language of Flowers that has existed for almost 200 years, giving each flower a specific message, sometimes going to exquisitely minute detail with one flower having different meaning read by the color of the petals.  An example would be a yellow rose meaning friendship, while we all recognize the red rose denotes love.

In my mind's eye, all of the flowers in our personal garden form a central path. This central path leads to a unique flower that is unlike any other in existence, and would never be found here on Earth. This flower would represent us. No one else, just us. All the other flowers in our personal garden channel energy into our personal Life Flower, keeping it healthy.

With age, it is inevitable that people come and go. Some leave this earthly plane early, at least to our human minds. Our personal gardens are as those in nature - in a constant state of flux, with changes and shifts, birth, growth and death occurring. The march of time causes our personal Life Flower to slowly...oh, so slowly, shed petals. Sometimes those petals renew, and the Life Flower continues to flourish.

In the instances of terminal illness, I imagine that individual's personal garden experiences quite dramatic change. I also can vividly picture their personal Life Flower becoming an equally profound depiction of their battle against that illness. I would think the Life Flower would reflect all the physical struggles, all the emotions and fears that go unspoken. Rather than this Life Flower becoming marked, or bruised or scarred, I can only visualize that it becomes more brilliantly beautiful, shining with an otherwordly purity, carrying a similar mien to that of a soldier in the midst of grim battle.

Eventually, an end must come for all of us. Our personal Life Flower will shed petals over time, slowly for some of us, abruptly and brutally for others. In my own personal analogy, I believe that those fallen petals do not perish into proverbial dust. I envision them drifting on that cosmic wind, guided by Love, to find their way to the Life Flowers of their loved ones. Isn't that a wonderful thing to imagine? That, just possibly, those fallen petals seek us out, those of us left to carry on and find a way to go forward alone, they drift until they find us, and they attach to our personal garden.

This, many might say, is a fairytale of epic proportions. I have no foundation for this concept other than my own, admittedly, fertile imagination. The image of that single flower suspended in space, slowly releasing, one by one....Life Petals, is one that has popped into my mind's eye each time I have dealt with lingering, terminal illness. Whether it makes sense to anyone else matters not to me; what does matter to me is that the thought brings me comfort. Imagining that some small fragment of the true essence of someone I have loved never really leaves me makes me smile, and gives me a solid sense of inner peace.

Perhaps one day I shall sit down and write out this different sort of fairytale, for I am curious to learn more of it. This is one of those facets of being a writer that I cherish, because I am equally curious to learn the end of the story as my readers may be. Questions certainly remain - where do all the petals shed over a lifetime go? Do they swirl away on the wind, except for those precious few that seek out those that are left to continue living? Do they form a carpeted path for us when our time comes, leading us in the right direction to reunite with those who have gone before us? The story is unfinished at this time.

I am left with how to close this blog. It was prompted, in part, by the blog of a dear friend, bringing to the forefront of my mind an image and concept that has been softly chiming in the background, patiently waiting to be given voice. How will this post be received? I honestly have no idea, but again, I will choose to be brave, publish it and wait to see what responses come. In the meantime, I will visit my own personal garden and gaze about me at the blessings, strewn in riotous color, then I shall gaze towards the center of my garden and recognize that my own Life Flower casts a bright glow. For now, this is a fitting close.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me at Healing Morning blog.