By Meagan McIntosh
It was late spring, I was sixteen, and my life was falling apart. In the midst of a panic attack, I tried to escape my crumbling family and walked outside, flowers peeking at me from every direction. How could they be so beautiful and full of life while I felt as if I were already dead? It was as if they were mocking me.
I thought back to all the dead bouquets of flowers I’d ever thrown away and cried and cried and cried thinking that was all I was and all I would be. Withered and broken and disposable. My sense of self crumbled to ashes along with my capacity to understand, to feel beauty in the world around me. When I returned home feeling completely broken, I grabbed a notebook and a pen and wrote
I feel myself withering-
was I ever a flower to begin with?
maybe I am a rose without the petals.
I think I was not destined to bloom
Months passed, and I passed through life like a zombie. I was alive but I didn’t want to be, I wasn’t dead but I wasn’t living. Then all of a sudden it was spring again.
With it came change, but also a slight reprieve from the ocean of numbness I’d been floating in for so long. I was sitting on the stairs of my back porch with the sun warming my back as I looked into the garden and saw the bud of a yellow tulip bathing in the sunlight.
I stared at it for what felt like hours but I know was just a few minutes. A single beautiful flower in the midst of a crowd of dead plants, not yet recovered from the harsh winter.
—And I understood—
Flowers are not beautiful in spite of their mortality, they are beautiful because of it. This flower, that bloomed even when the world around it was grey and broken still. This flower, that I knew would not live long, but for once, the thought did not diminish the startling beauty I found in it. If everything was beautiful all the time, nothing would be beautiful.
I held onto that temporary beauty like it was a life raft. It saved me from drowning. Flowers live and die like we thrive and struggle. I know it’s cliché, but everything in life really is temporary. Appreciate things when they are beautiful, but also appreciate life when it isn’t easy to.
You may wither, but you will always grow. You will always bloom.