content warning: domestic violence
Daffodils. They come up after the crocus, their bright yellows and whites and oranges heralding spring, warmer weather and rebirth. They used to remind me of my mother’s flower garden. Now they give me flashbacks. I’m driving on my way to teach and I catch sight of a particularly yellow bunch. I’m mesmerized by their brightness.
And then I’m tearing down the final hundred meters of Southern High School’s track, chest heaving, arms flying, sprinting as fast as I can. I cross the line and continue sprinting because Garmin has not yet made the triumphant “workout complete” sound. A few steps later, there it is and I break my momentum. I’m just run the fastest mile my Garmin has recorded. I roll my eyes. Not fast enough. Maybe if I’d been sleeping better…maybe if I hadn’t gone out so fast…maybe if someone was here to cheer me on. I told my husband our marriage was over last night. I lope back toward the house, and daffodils line the roadside. It is the first time I’ve seen them. The daffodils mean spring and hope. “It will get better,” I remind myself. I sniffle and wipe away tears, and then I squat next to a big clump. It will get better, and I’m still gunning for the high school mile record. I’ll break it on a day that I don’t wake up feeling crushed. I sob and consider plucking a few to cheer myself up. These belong to someone else. I leave them. It’s a beautiful day. I am completely morose.
I blink and register that I’m still at the stop light gazing at the same daffodils. My face is wet and my breathing ragged.
I can’t remember who told me or how. I’m missing something. I’m clutching the door frame in my friend’s apartment, sobbing loudly, my legs feeling too weak to support my weight. He threw away my garden. I checked Facebook after I got the message. His profile contained three status updates, hours apart, indicating that he spent the day digging up my plants and throwing them away like garbage. I’m reeling with grief and anguish, horrified that the person I married is so cruel he’d give a day’s effort to killing beautiful living things just to hurt me–and it hurts. I am hysterical, wailing loudly how another family could have enjoyed my garden after me, how it was bad enough I had to leave it but why? Why would he kill it like that? How could anyone be so wasteful and horrible and ugly?
Over a year later, I’m still gazing at the same daffodils, sobbing over my lost garden. I’m an adult. I’m crying like a child, still terrorized by the memory. I can’t breathe. I hold my face in my hands. Smell the lavender in my car. It is now. Remind myself of the earth I’ve touched since then: Standing outside Reflectory Cafe, tamping down new soil in planters with my sandaled foot. Squatting in Scott’s yard, my hand full of weeds I’ve compulsively pulled while we talked.
I look up from the bed I’ve just tamped down. Christian said something funny and now he’s smiling goofily at me. We’re putting in seeds, and I’m excited. Gardening is my favorite thing to do during the weekend, and here I am with my friend and favorite garden buddy. I don’t mind so much that my husband won’t help–Christian is happy to dig in the dirt all weekend.
I’ve pulled away from the clump of daffodils, and I’m tired. Unable to interrupt the stream of memories snapping into my consciousness, I breathe as deeply as I am able, accepting the onslaught as best I can. I curl my toes into the bottoms of my shoes and feel the tears running down my face. I accept my grief. I accept that these memories aren’t complete yet for me. I bless and accept the daffodils which belong to this spring and the here and now.