I was honestly surprised by his sensitivity. How could he comprehend how meaningful the magnolia tree was to me?
Without looking at him I slowly began my story. “My mother’s parents lived on a plantation in Georgia. Magnolia trees would bloom each spring and every day while they were in bloom my grandmother would give my mom a single flower to remind her how beautiful she was.” I paused, choking on the pain the rest of the story raised in me.
Softly he finished for me, “And then she did the same for you, until she passed away.”
As uncontrollable sobs defeated my composure I could do nothing but nod. He pulled me into his arms and I was grateful for his strength. He held me tightly, resting his cheek on top of my head. We didn’t speak; there was no need.
Eventually he guided me to a bench that faced the tree. With his arm around me I rested my head on his shoulder, my gaze turned to the tree but emotions flourished within me. Thoughts of my parents, memories of the happy days when I was a child danced through my mind. An image of my mother sitting beside me on my bed as she handed me my first magnolia flower, her arm around me as she told me how beautiful I was both on the outside and the inside.
Then came the montage of events that led to the end, her cancer diagnosis, the years she spent fighting, suffering. I recalled the surgeries to replace her joints as the illness attacked her relentlessly, first her hip then her shoulder. I saw my dad pushing her in a wheelchair through the gardens she had loved, a magnolia tree holding a place of honor in the center. Then finally I felt the anguish we had shared when she passed, the healing when we planted a tree in her honor in the local park.
I had been an adult by the time she died, a woman, almost 30. She had battled cancer for half my life, yet even when she was at her weakest she would still send me a flower, sometimes an image in an email or a text after I had moved out on my own, but still it would come every day, reminding me she thought I was beautiful.
Her strength and her courage were inspirational, making her death even more unbearable. Even though she had been gone for nearly 7 years the pain could be crushing at times. Without her I felt adrift and uncertain. My father did his best, but there was no replacing the bond I had with her.
“You are just as beautiful as she told you,” he stated, reading my thoughts.
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Sensitivity and is part of something longer I am working on.
This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after What Is So Upsetting About a Magnolia Tree?.