My mother and I used to walk in the meadow often. The little yellow dandelions seemed to whisper sweet messages in my ear. That was back when mother wasn’t sick. The last time we visited the meadow was October 3, 2002. The day before mom’s diagnosis. She had a tumor pushing against her lung, causing her to not be able to breathe. Doctors said she could have been saved if only we had come ten seconds earlier. When she died, the meadow was a place I thought I would never go back to. A place that reminded me of something I would never have again. Something that made me want to go back in time. Something that made me want to freeze time. Something that made me want to throw away time itself.
My mother was like my best friend. She was there for me through everything. I remember my last goodbye. It was one of those experiences that you see in the movies and always think to yourself, “It will never be something you do.”
I thought so too. My mother and father would always be by me. It was a weird sensation. You say the typical stuff. “Goodbye, Mom… I love you.” But no one said anything after that. We both just sat there holding each other. The only sound I can truly remember is my mother whispering in my ear, “Love you too.”
After that I was pulled out of the room, never to see her again.
After she passed, I thought life would never go on. It was just me and my father. All alone. People would say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” and,” you’ll be okay.” I knew they were trying to help, but they didn’t. It made it worse. I was constantly reminded of her. Everywhere I turned someone or something had to bring it up. And when I would go to bed, I would be reminded that when I woke, she wouldn’t be there. As I lay sleeplessly, the only thought going through my mind was ten seconds. If we had just driven 10 seconds faster, maybe mom would still be here. Maybe she would be dancing and singing in the halls like she always did when I went to bed.
I woke up to the smell of bacon, resonating through the fresh morning air. My clothes were laid out on top of my dresser, leggings, and my mother’s old Beatles t-shirt. The shirt had cuts and rips covering the exterior. The smell of the shirt gave me flashbacks to the meadow. The image put tears in my eyes. “Avery it’s time to go! Hurry, you’ll have to eat in the car.”
I slipped my shoes on and headed out the door. Every part of me wanted to ask my father about things, but I couldn’t. He had a worse time grieving than I did. Part of me wanted to say, “ You’ll be okay.” But I knew how that felt. On the way to school, no music played, just the sound of my father’s heavy breathing.
“I’ll be late home from school today dad. I have an errand to run.” I added in simply, trying to only disturb the silence for a moment. Father nodded, knowing better than to question me.
School had seemed to come faster than a rollercoaster at full speed. I wanted to change my mind and go home, but I needed my place back. I wasn’t ready to see it again, the last place I had spent time with her before she was sick.
The long walk across town killed me. I felt lonely. Usually, this walk was shared with my mother, but now she wasn’t here. The London breeze blew through my hair. I closed my hoodie in a little more and continued walking. As I walked, I noticed a bakery to the right. It was my mother’s favorite place in town. She loved the small fondue table and the way they fold their napkins even when she was just getting a loaf of fresh sourdough. It wasn’t the bakery I had known years before. It was a new modern bakery. One that cooked with more than just sweets. They had eggs, smoothies, and some sort of green juice. I wanted to say it was how I remembered, but it wasn’t. As I left, I felt anger. How could they change my mother’s favorite place? How could they replace such a wondrous place? As I walked, I muttered mean phrases under my breath. And that’s when I saw it.
As I arrived at the meadow, I noticed the same bunch of flowers on top of the hill my mother and I used to sniff. The flowers with small yellow petals. The flowers the bee’s stayed away from, and the flowers that I would pick for my mother once a year when they were freshly bloomed. The tears began to overtake me. I began sobbing, as I ran to the yellow blossoms. It had been 5 years since my mother passed, and yet I couldn’t stop the tears. Then I stood up, atop the hill which overlooks the meadow. I closed my eyes and took in the scene. I could hear the chirping of birds, I could smell the summer air, and I felt the grass blow against my ankle as the wind howled its angry howl. I felt as though my mother was there with me, holding my hand, guiding me. For that moment, and that moment only, I felt like everything was okay. Like finally I had found something worth stopping the cycle of life for.
I sat down with the flowers to bask in the sunlight. I leaned over and smelled the little yellow flowers. One whispered to me “ Mother loves and misses you.” Another whispered, “ Don’t be scared, mummies here.” I sat and talked with the flowers for what seemed ten minutes, but before I knew it, it was 7:30 p.m and dark. I made my slow and long walk home. The garage door was open, meaning dad was home from work. I walked into the house and towards the kitchen where he was. I felt scared. Scared of what this new freedom and release would bring me. Would I forget about her?
I continued walking into the house, trying to stay focused so I wouldn’t cry. As soon as our eyes made contact, we both began to cry.
I told him everything. About the meadows, the smells, the hills, the tears, and the flowers who whispered to me.