Image by Ann Lewis
Once upon a time, I was just a little girl. Born under the burning summer’s sun into a teeny, tiny town where I lived for years and years and years.
In this little town of mine, there were rivers and lakes and streams. There were fruit trees and bushels and all of the raspberries, peaches, cherries and pears any little girl could dream of. Most exciting of all, there was a family of giant sunflowers that grew right in my very own backyard, growing so tall that their petals reached all the way up to the very same summer sun I was born underneath.
My grandmother, gleaming and ginger, loved the orchards just like me, and so we played outside for hours, singing with the breeze that sent our songs up to the sky, throughout the trees.
And me, I was wild! Always running amok out in the fields. Building secret tree-houses and forts, coming home all covered in mud, and everyday back into my grandmother’s arms, out stretched and waiting for a hug.
“I love you, Grandma, will you stay my grandma forever and ever?” I’d ask. But she was getting old, and knew she couldn’t stay. And so, she decided we should go for a walk. She took my tiny hand in hers, now wrinkled and warm, and walked me to the orchard, where the always-stretching sunflowers grew. She said to me that she couldn’t stay forever and that when she was gone, when I missed her at the very most, I should come and sit with the sunflowers and remember her there.
Eventually, as all things do, my Grandmother passed.
I spent the rest of my youth growing up without her. The sunflowers kept on growing, tall and brilliant out of the earth and up to the sky. I tried not to look, but every now and then, the flowers would catch my eyes. As if they were really alive, they would shed a few pedals, just to say hi.
As time past and the years blew by, I finally started spending more and more time venturing back to the ancient orchards where I had once learned to fly. Summer days melted away into the creaking-cricket nights I would spend picking fresh fruit with warm winds from every side. I would lay in dew soaked blades of grass all afternoons daydreaming of the days I would fly so high on my swing set, my grandmother teaching me to take flight and stride.
And then, one day, out of the blue I felt a horrendous tremor. I jumped! Armies of tractors, bulldozers headed straight for me, tearing trees from their roots, shaking fruit from their stems. The orchard was being destroyed right before my eyes. Powerless and panicked, I ran to the sunflowers for shelter, and begged them for help. They couldn’t hear me, but still I pleaded at their roots on my hands and knees, “Please, O! Please, make them stop. Our home is being eaten up!”
I wished so hard, with my eyes shut tight that my grandmother was there to hold my not-so-tiny-anymore hand while I ducked and cowered from the greedy-machines that tore, without mercy, through the fields where so much life had lived.
But nothing happened.
And so I sat beneath the flowers,
And I wept and I wept and I wept.
The bulldozers were coming closer, their violent beep echoing through the now sparse field, and I knew I couldn’t stay for long. I wiped my eyes and stumbled back up to my feet.
I turned to face my beautiful flowers one last time. Just as I lifted my hand to wave goodbye, the entire family of golden blossoms stretched their stems out as far as they could reach and slowly let their petals rain down over me. Unmoving, beneath the cascading petals, my eyes opened wide at the once abundant orchard. I stood, and I thought of my grandmother, remembering with my chin held high that nothing lasts forever, not the orchard or my grandma. Not even I.
The flowers had coiled back into the earth, but one still stood tall. Heavily it heaved one final breath, and then let it’s whole flower drop off from it’s stem, into the palm of my waiting hand. The inside of it’s core brimming with seeds, asking me to plant it in new fresh grounds.