I lost a friend while on vacation. This sentence already sounds complicated, I realize, so I will explain. I was on a short holiday at a beautiful place when my friend died. No, she was not with me on vacation. She was thousands of kilometers back home. There I was on a beautiful place, supposed to have a break and enjoy myself after a whole year when the news got to me. I spent the following minutes in absolute disbelief and started reaching out to everyone I could. There’s an explainable emotion that resembles panic and it pulls at the stomach when one is trying to confirm or validate bad news. I went through that as I waited for answers, holding on to my phone and wishing it transferred more than just electromagnetic signals.
The worst was confirmed after a few minutes and my heart sank. There are two sides to this situation; the first is the sadness and frustration of being too far and not able to do anything. The second is the unreality of the situation as one follows the updates through the phone and social media. These two leave your chest empty, gasping for air and dry heaving before the tears arrive.
I cried that day. I cried harder than I had allowed myself to in years and for so many reasons. Regret; all the time lost! I wasn’t very close to the deceased, even though we had every reason to be. Questions like; why? were heavy on my mind. Loss; because that’s exactly what it is and how it feels. I felt the loss of a friend and all those that went before her. Helplessness; because I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t mourn with loved ones or friends in common being so far. I couldn’t relive the moments with the departed. I was too far and too late.
Well, time moved and within a few days she was laid to rest and I faced life again. The question is however, how does one resume life? Do I recommence the holiday with gusto and live my best life even though there’s a slight bitterness on my tongue? Do I stay indoors and let grief and sadness run its course? How do I honor somebody’s memory and live? Are those two that different?
But then, life has a way of directing and redirecting itself against all odds. While sight-seeing the next day I started noticing flowering plants. I found them everywhere! Little flowers growing under rocks. Big majestic flowers by a valley. Bright blossoms above thorny cacti. A rose shaped cactus. There were flowers everywhere, in every size, shape and color. Some grew on fertile soil on beautifully cultivated gardens and thrived on the nurturing environment. Others grew on rocky roads, on fallen pots and dry patches of land without any care but their own will to blossom. Some grew wanted and others not, but against all odds they grew. I noticed one clear thing about these plants; they all just grew and regardless of their reason to exist, or how long they will exist, they were all beautiful.
It now dawns on me that we are all like that. Our lives are just like the gorgeous, vulnerable, majestic, colorful, resistant, … flowers. Our lives are meant to just be lived, just as the flowers ARE. We grow from different places and face different challenges and opportunities. And just like flowers we blossom, we bloom, not knowing when we’ll wither and fall dry. We don’t know if we’ll fill some hearts with joy, put smiles on passive faces. We don’t know if our lives will continue on the earth that we grew upon or on decorative vases, dried herbs packets, on hair and clothes as decoration or pressed in a book. We don’t know for how long we grow and bloom. We are not entirely sure if our seeds will spread and grow to continue our lives or start new life. We just ARE, and that could be the whole point. When the time comes for our blossoms to dry, the only thing that matters is; Did we bloom? Did we grow? Did we live?
When I see it this way, maybe there’s more than just pain and regret in loss. There’s also gratitude for life and what it means to us. There’s growth and beauty in our memories and these make us who we are. We are blossoms.