Rhianne Forrest is a Creative Writing and Journalism student at the University of Strathclyde. At only 18, she absolutely adores writing, and we at Aye Hen are lucky to showcase her piece “Where The Wild Flowers Grow”.
Wildflowers. You don’t think much of them. But they are amazing. Wildflowers grow. Wildflowers bloom. Wildflowers flourish. Sadly, though, the time comes when wildflowers begin to wilt and ultimately they die.
Hopefully, before they do pass, they let out seeds giving the chance for new life to grow and thrive.
This is how my mother explained it to me. I was too young at the time to understand what she meant, but I liked hearing about the wildflowers. However, now that I am older I can appreciate what she was trying to tell me, and I have to give her a lot of credit. I mean, how do you tell your five-year-old daughter you are dying? That you will never see her graduate? Never see her fall in love? Never see her marry? Never hold your grandchildren?
My advice? Tell her about the wildflowers.
As I sit here in the same field, the wildflowers field, I think back to the time I did have with her. I can picture her now, before the cancer spread. I can see her, with her long golden locks, which are so unlike my fiery red ringlets. I remember vividly the day those long locks started to fall out, how they began to leave her. She never did cry. Instead she smiled, went to her room and handed me the scissors. “I need a hairdresser, a proper one, so, what do you say little flower?” I laughed, excited at the fact she was actually going to let me cut her beautiful hair, and took the scissors. She never did go to a proper hairdresser after my attack on her hair. She kept it like that. I will always cherish that moment.
I can also see her smile, oh how I loved that smile. My dad says it is the reason he fell in love with her. He would say that her smile would light up a room, I have to say, I agree with him. As I scan her face I lock eyes with her. Those shining emerald eyes, the same eyes I have.
As the image of her disappears, I reminisce back to the time were I first fully understood what was happening to her. We were in the kitchen, peeling apples. She was standing by the sink and I was next to her, on a step ladder. I kept looking at her arms. The doctor had told me all about Leukemia. I could picture the invisible war going on in her body. I imagined the red blood cell army fighting against the white cell army. Sadly, the white blood cell army was winning. I expressed the image to her, adding the fighting sequences in with the peeler. Mum smiled, shaking her head and wrapping her arms around me. “Oh little flower, you’ve got it all wrong.”
“But how could that be wrong?” I queried, wanting to know more.
“There aren’t two armies; there is only one big one. Made with both the red blood cell army, and the white blood cell army, the white blood cells are over working themselves, the red blood cells, well they need to catch up.”
I look away from the poppies now and stand up. Walking through the vibrant field which is so full of life, I pick up flowers as I go, cutting their life short, just like hers was.
The moments I remember with her vary. I try to forget what happened to her when the cancer started to take over her, because that wasn’t my mother. My mother was someone who was strong. Someone who was kind. Someone who was caring. My mother was that one person who could pick me up when I was sad, dust me off and make me feel like I could do anything in the world. My mother was simply, extraordinary. Having that image of her cruelly taken away is something I never want. But I don’t blame the cancer. After all, cancer wants to grow and thrive just like the wildflowers do. As I run my hand across the flowers I can picture her again. I can picture her healthy. Forever happy. Forever peaceful. Her suffering is over, I am just sad that she had to leave me for it to stop. I close my eyes. If I concentrate hard enough I can hear her voice, hear her last words.
“Oh my little flower. You’re not so little anymore are you? Just live little flower. Fall in love. Get your heart broken. Be crazy. Because life is short little flower, but life is great.” And with those words, I watched the life leave her eyes.
I walk down the stone scattered path, our path, playing her favourite song. Wildflowers in hand, I picture her standing next to me, singing along, her voice so sweet the birds stop and listen. Suddenly I find myself singing along, skipping down the path, twirling when she does. All the sadness from before leaves me and I am free. As free as those birds that have stopped to listen. I laugh which is something I haven’t done in a long time. ‘Be crazy’ echoes through my mind. Those two simple words change me. Sadness had taken a hold of me. Grief had sucked the life out of me, keeping me in its evil clutches. But now, happiness had swooped in. Picking me up, dusting me off and making me feel like I could do anything. My mother had swooped in. Her memories. Her name. Her time may have been cut short, but she had lived every second. She let out her seed. She let it grow and thrive and this seed was going to honor that.
I walk into the grave yard, going to her gravestone. I reach out and clear away the moss that had chosen this stone as its home. “Hi mum,” I said, tracing the lettering of her name with my finger like I have done a thousand times before. ‘Anna Wander’ is written is gold, swirly writing, although it was faded slightly now. “I brought you flowers, your favourite kind.” I set the flowers in the vase next to her. I try to imagine her sleeping whenever I talk to her. I try to imagine her peaceful. Not the pained expression she had adopted in her last few weeks of life. “I am sorry, but….this is going to be my last visit for a long time.” I look at my feet. I had rehearsed this, but it felt wrong to talk to her as if she was asleep, she needed to be awake, so she could hear this. So, I closed my eyes taking a deep breath and picture her. She is sitting by the fire in our old house, smiling, welcoming. “Dad and I…we are moving. He is getting remarried.” She isn’t angry or sad. She is happy, because he is healing. “He made sure it isn’t going to be on your anniversary. He still lights a candle for you.” I see her nod, telling me it has been three years since her death and it was time to move on. “It doesn’t make it easy though mum. I wish I could visit you. But dad can’t live in the house anymore. He needs to move.” I wipe away the tears that had started. “I miss you so much. But you need to know, you need to know that I will never forget you.” I hear dad honking the horn in the car. I had been a long time in the field. “I love you.”
I finish putting the flowers in the vase. I leave her Iris’, because I am her Iris and I will be. Always.