A couple of days ago I went with my husband to help an old lady friend prepare her apartment for renovating. After moving some furniture around the house and readying the space for the next step, we wanted to leave. The old lady, however, didn’t want to let us go away until she gifted me with some things of hers, including several flower pots, which, she said, were anyway deprived of care, since she doesn’t actually live in that apartment and only comes there once in a while. I took those flowers with gladness, not necessarily because they were gifts, but because they are pieces of life coming from a person whose life is hurrying towards its end.
The lady in question is about 65 years old and suffers from bone cancer in final stage, and despite that, and despite the even worse situation that her own son suffers from multiple sclerosis, she still finds within herself the power to not only smile, but to actually laugh and enjoy what is left of her life, and even make fun of the horrible sickness eating her alive.
While I was preparing those flower pots to take them home, I had a small conversation with her, and one thing that she said remained with me, like a second gift: “There is so little that we actually have in this world, no matter how much we possess!” In her eyes, when she said that, I thought I noticed a glint of pain, but in the next second it was gone, and she told me that she would give me all the rest of the flowers, if I wanted them, and I happily accepted. A strange tone of joy crossed her voice when talking again, as if she was suddenly relieved for the flowers’ fate, and so we established that next time we go to that apartment we would take the rest of the pots too. Then we left.
There are many gifts that we receive in this life. Many objects, many proofs of our evanescent nature. Most of them get lost along the way, and we forget about them, expecting others in exchange. There are, however, irreplaceable gifts, like, for instance, every single day that we live on this earth. Do not let that waste – because at nightfall, the day will have passed anyway – but it’s up to each of us to not let it go in vain.
The flowers that I took from her are now in my own house, making friends with my older vegetal tenants, and I don’t know which gift was more important – the plants, which she turned into a sudden piece of heritage for me, or the splinter of her own life and wisdom that she decided to share with me. I do know though that, even after she will be gone (no matter when that will happen) she will still be alive for me in each of those flowers.
© 2013 Liliana Negoi
Both text and photo belong to Liliana Negoi.
LILIANA NEGOI (Endless Journey and in Romanian curcubee în alb şi negru) ~ is a member of our core team on Into the Bardo. She is the author of three published volumes of poetry in English, which is not her mother tongue but one that she came to love especially because of writing: Sands and Shadows, Footsteps on the San – tanka collection and The Hidden Well. The last one can also be heard in audio version, read by the author herself on her SoundCloud site HERE. Many of her creations, both poetry and prose, have been published in various literary magazines.