A flower’s appeal is in its contradictions — so delicate in form yet strong in fragrance, so small in size yet big in beauty, so short in life yet long on effect. ~Terri Guillemets

My father loved spring. The world would come to life. Sitting outside, basking in the returning warmth of the sun, he would take in the blossoming of the trees, the budding of the flowers.

When the world looked cold & barren, on those winter days in New York, he discovered a way to add color to the backdrop of such bleakness.

In a wealth of clay pots, he planted silk flowers. Placing them along the walkway, sitting them out on the deck. He could lift the shades, as he did first thing every morning, and there they would be. No matter the season, they were full of color, if not full of life.

Silk flowers never die. The elements can not uproot them. When life’s passing storms hit, their color remains vibrant. They do not need the warmth of sun to nurture them, the buzzing of the bees to help the garden grow. Mother Nature can shower them with harsh rains, it will not hurt them. She can unleash wintry snows, their beauty stands bold against the winter white. She can coat them in a blanket of darkness, they will not wither. And when the earth is parched, longing for rain, they will not starve.

But they are not real. No, the most beautiful of flowers is a precious symbol of life. When darkness falls upon them, robbing them of light, they wither. When they sit in the center of the storm, they bend, they break. When their roots search in vain for sustenance, they are parched, weakened, so very fragile.

We are like precious flowers. And we are subject to the seasons & storms of life. When we feel immersed in the darkness, unable to bend toward the light, we wither. When it feels as if our roots are unsteady, no longer grounded, we lose our strength. When each day seems to bring a new storm, our colors become dim, less vibrant. And when it feels as if the storms will never pass, bit by bit, it is as if a piece of us feels it is dying. Even if it is not.

How I wish my father was a silk flower. But he was not. His life was a precious one. He had weathered many storms, and he had basked in the sunlight. He put down roots, and planted a garden & he tended it. At times it was full of life, and other seasons saw it struggle. But it was his garden. He was not a perfect flower, flawed as we all are. The petals told a story, his story, our story.

Life gave him too many dark days these last months. He couldn’t find the sunlight. He couldn’t feel the strength of his roots. He could not trust that though he might bend in the storm, he need not break. He couldn’t trust that the garden he had nurtured, would not let him wither, that he was not casting a shadow over our own bright rays of sun.

But we who loved him know, he could have once again blossomed. Like a flower in the spring, he could once again stand tall. His roots that much stronger because of all he had endured. The sun would shine again, and soon the storms of winter would have been in the past. He could have once again felt joy, as he looked at the garden that surrounded him. There would be a return of the vibrant hues that had filled his life before. Beauty would replace pain…

My father loved silk flowers. But silk flowers are not real. And they can only endure life’s storms, because they can not feel them.

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose (The Rose by Bette Midler)