Hope Unfolds – Pink Flowers – Day 20

Hope Unfolds – Pink Flowers – Day 20

For the past week, I watched them unfold.  A vase of tulips sat on my kitchen counter moving through one stage of intoxicating beauty to another, each day’s visual array outdoing the previous day.  And a stinging yet joyful memory was aroused.

My dad passed away this month two years ago.  He bought me flowers.  First, he asked what color I liked and I told him to choose since he was the one buying me flowers.  

He chose pink.  They were tulips, breathing a little fresh air into January after the unimaginable heartache of the holidays.  It was to be the last day he would ever choose anything for me.  

We had just left the cancer specialist office where he jovially conversed with the doctor, and still tried to beat him in an arm wrestle, with the little bit of steroid strength he had left.  

After stopping for a lunch where he ordered his final Jonnie Walker, allowed by the doctor, we decided to pick up a few groceries.  The dichotomous marital relationship between my mom and him caused regular disagreements and I was once again mediating an argument, this time about chestnuts, in the middle of Central Market.  My Dad wanted more even though we had just ordered a large box straight from the grower somewhere in the middle of the country.  And his obsession with chestnuts continued morphing into a typical battle of words that he always won.  All the while, I watched through a haze as I was still trying to process the meaning of the doctor’s words from an hour ago, “Call hospice now”.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, my Dad felt compelled to choose the first ever flowers for me.

Apparently, the large tumor was gone from his brain, but the inflammation was beginning to wreak havoc. He had survived brain surgery at the age of 86.  And this was week 3 post surgery, one day before he fell into a coma.  

The flowers lasted longer than any other tulips I had ever had.  I now look at the small glass vase holding the dried pink petals as it sits on the shelf.  Suddenly the writhing waves of loss shake me, yet the view of the new tulips I have watched daily for the past week infuse joy and hope into my tears.

Life is a beautiful yet arduous journey. It is through the unfolding of these petals, I am reawakened to the hope that he is still here somewhere with me. Although we can’t hold our loved ones forever in our arms, they live on in our hearts.

-Erika K Rothwell

An excerpt from a memoir in progress.

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Time Inside a Dresser

Time Inside a Dresser

I emptied out a dresser today.  Most times, dressers are filled with clothes, but mine was filled with memories.  The school, drill team, and sports pictures were enough to make me cry.  It was the handmade Mother’s Day cards and artwork that had me sobbing.

I ask all of you, how is it possible that all of this life passes by us in a few short years?  I know you don’t have the answer, just like me.  The ultrasound picture of my youngest child growing inside of me alongside the framed print of my daughter’s ultrasound carrying my grandchild doesn’t make sense to me at this moment.  For, Time does not appear linear in this moment.  Einstein once wrote, “For us believing physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

Julian Barbour, a British physicist, describes time as “a succession of pictures, a succession of snapshots, changing continuously one into another. I’m looking at you; you’re nodding your head. Without that change, we wouldn’t have any notion of time.”

So time continues to be an illusion for those of us who resist the belief in linear time and reject the idea that time is understood past the moment of now.  Our brains struggle to categorize moments in static configurations, to support time being linear, yet it only illustrates linear time as it flows from the changes it senses.

Barbour goes on to outline “Nows” as the true explanation of time, ”We have the strong impression that things have definite positions relative to each other. I aim to abstract away everything we cannot see (directly or indirectly) and simply keep this idea of many different things coexisting at once. There are simply the Nows, nothing more, nothing less.”

I absolutely love how he outlines these nows as taking place simultaneously, outside of linear time, the very moments when you experience a memory alongside today and feel the coexistence.  This simultaneous existence describes my emotional state.  Time cannot have possibly passed, only by feeling the time that is now, unsure of any other moment beyond.  It is the present I feel.  To explain this by such a powerful intersection makes complete sense to me.

This explanation is deep, I know.  My father’s words written in a birthday card to my son when he was only three, as we awaited the arrival of his little brother awakened my memory of his continuous deep examination of time, questioning whether relative or illusory.  And I sense him here with me “Now” although he’s left us years ago.

To me today, I feel as Barbour did, when he stated: ”If you try to get your hands on time, it’s always slipping through your fingers.”

And if that’s true, I understand why I’m unable to grasp this moment in time because it was once there, I feel it now, and as the succession of pictures attempts to move me to accept the change, equal to the notion of time, I choose to hold tightly onto an illusion.

-Erika K Rothwell

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