I was walking through my garden earlier today, collecting seeds to share with friends, and I saw a few of my irises in full bloom. I remember this happening last year and I just thought they were confused since I had gotten them from someone and replanted them. But this year as they’re all blooming for a second time, I’m guessing this is just what they do – re-bloom.
Now in ordinary times I wouldn’t even think twice about this. But as we all know, there has been nothing ordinary at all about 2020. Including the fact that I’m about to lose my 39-year-old dear, sweet friend to cancer. And I’m struggling with that. Like really struggling. Because while I’ve lost a lot of great people in my life, I’ve never lost a friend. But as I sit here and cry, and be angry, and think about how wrong all of this is – as corny as this sounds – I feel like my irises are trying to teach me a lesson. Because as the majority of my flower garden is fading away, these are blooming. They’re thriving. Amongst the brown and the other shriveled up flowers, these irises stand tall, vibrant and proud. Reminding me that when some things die, some are being born again. So while I sit here attempting to mentally prepare to mourn my dear friend, I have to believe that while her time here is coming to an end, in some other place she’s getting ready to bloom once again. The funny thing is is that she knows I don’t believe in this stuff. But she does. And I know she wants me to believe it too. So for her sake I’m trying.
After my grandma died a few years ago, this girl unknowingly taught me an important lesson: that it’s not only okay to feel, but it’s perfectly normal. So while my first instinct is to clam up and bury this mountain of emotions, instead I’m letting them flow. I’m remembering our laughs. Our inside jokes. Our “not judging.” Our tears. I’m remembering the shine that simply follows her everywhere. And I’m embracing the fact that this girl will soon bloom once again. Because just like my irises, some things are simply meant to bloom twice.
I read a lot of books. It’s just my thing. And once in awhile I find a phrase or two that really hits me and I keep them in a “Notes” page. This is one of them and I find it very fitting. Matt Haig (a brilliant author) in “How to Stop Time” wrote:
"People you love never die. That is what Omai had said, all those years ago. And he was right. They don’t die. Not completely. They live in your mind, the way they always lived inside you. You keep their light alive. If you remember them well enough, they can still guide you, like the shine of long-extinguished stars could guide ships in unfamiliar waters. If you stop mourning them, and start listening to them, they still have the power to change your life. They can, in short, be salvation."
So while sometime soon I may be mourning my friend, I will also be listening to her. Maybe that voice will sound like a little motherless girl needing a hug. Or maybe it will sound like an eight year old who was robbed of her childhood and needs reassurance that she truly will make it to the “other side” of this nightmare. Or maybe it’s simply the silence of a starry night. Or the beauty in a rainbow. Because “listening to someone” isn’t just about hearing their words. It’s about believing in them and doing your own part in keeping them alive.
So to my sweet, charismatic, spirited friend: whether here or there, your light will never wane. Your love will be carried on. And your life will always have purpose. I love you.