Date: June 21, 2016
By: Katrina Wells
English 10 - Mrs. Amberg - Lesson #18
State: New York
Violet tore the paper flowers to shreds as tears spilled down her cheeks. The paper sliced her hands, but she couldn’t feel anything other than the anguish contorting her whole body. Her mother was gone and there was nothing she could do to bring her back. They both had known it was coming for a long time now, but it didn’t make it hurt any less. It didn’t fill the gap left behind in her mother’s absence. The silent house, the empty rooms, and, worst of all, the withering garden. She wanted to escape the flowers, let them wither up and disappear like her mother did. Yet, she couldn’t bear to let the flowers die.
Violet remembered the times they would sit together for hours on end in the garden. She would come out with boots, a straw hat, and a trowel just to sit and talk to her mother for a few precious hours after school. When her mother found out she had cancer and began treatment, she became too sick to go sit out in the sun for hours. So, Violet traveled home from art school more and more often. She would lead her mother to the kitchen table where they could sit and drink tea and paint together. Violet watched her mother grow weaker. She watched her hair fall out in chunks. Violet was the first person to buy her mother a baseball cap to cover her balding head. But, the hardest thing was to watch her mother’s smile disappear. Finally, her mother, the strongest woman Violet has ever known, broke down.
“Violet, I miss my flowers. I miss sitting in the sun and letting dirt get under my nails. I miss all the bright colors,” were broken words sobbed into her shirt. So, Violet did the one thing she knew how to do. She painted. She painted every surface with big bright flowers. She bought gallons and gallons of paint to make sure she painted everything. She found bed spreads, curtains, rugs, and tablecloths all in colorful flower prints. It was worth it to see the smile light up her mother’s face.
“I brought the outside in. You know I’m terrible at painting flowers, but I did my best. Do you like it?” she asked, fear creeping into her voice.
“It’s lovely Violet. I love it,” her mother murmured. “You even got me purple bed sheets!” she exclaimed excitedly running a frail hand over the soft blankets. “Thank you,” her mother whispered softly, tears pricking her eyes. After months of practice, Violet and her mother could paint flowers together. Even with the bags under her eyes and the pasty pale skin, her mother would smile more. She would laugh again and it was like music to her daughter’s ears. They would take the flowers that they painted, glue them to popsicle sticks, and Violet would go plant them in the garden as she tended to her mother’s other flowers.
Her mother collapsed one day in late August. She was rushed to the emergency room where it was suggested that she should stay in the hospital until she gained her strength back. She watched her mother wither away in that hospital bed. Violet tried to keep her mother’s spirits high as she visited every day with a new set of paper flowers. Today she had shown up with an array of detailed purple flowers stuffed into a vase. Her mother was sleeping soundly and she plopped herself into a chair and got lost in a book. She glanced up after an hour or so to watch a small smile break out across her mother’s face in her slumber. Her mother took one last deep breath before the monitor flat lined. Her mother, after fighting for almost a year, died peacefully in her sleep.
Violet couldn’t breathe after crying so hard. When she had finally made it home, she broke down again, crying, and ripping apart any of the paper flowers she could get her hands on. She went and curled up in her mother’s purple sheets and slept. The next morning, the sun was high in the sky and Violet was out in the garden wearing her straw hat and boots. She gardened until she couldn’t keep herself from tearing up. Yes, she knew it would be hard. She knew life would be different for her forever because life was paper thin. It could be beautiful, but it could all tear apart in a matter of seconds, minutes, days. But, she knew her mother wouldn’t want her to sit around and cry. So, Violet did what she knew best. She grabbed her watercolor paints, sat in the grass, and she painted.