The winter I nearly died, I dreamed of my childhood garden.
As I lay there, my body burning and aching, I filled my head with flowers.
I was a thousand miles and eight years removed, but I could still feel the petals beneath my fingers as I sat beside them.
For my tenth birthday, I was gifted a rhododendron to grow with me.
Every spring I waited for its blossoms as a true sign that the worst had passed, that the gentler days had come.
I dreamed of it often that terrible winter, pale pink blossoms growing and decaying behind my eyes.
I survived the winter and returned in the spring, weakened but alive.
The rhododendron was nearly dead.
It was a terrible frost, I was told. Between the heavy snow and the freezing, it was a wonder that any of it survived.
I watched it, heart in my throat, as the true spring arrived.
The rhododendron managed three bundles of flowers, so much smaller and more fragile than the other blossoms, but I have never forgotten their beauty.
It lives still.
Never as healthy as those around it, but every ounce of strength forced into flowers as pale and beautiful as the time between one breath and the next.
We cannot warn ourselves of danger because the risk is in living itself.
Instead we can celebrate each frost, each breath-
Each bold flower opening to the sun.
The Darling Buds will be my week of flowers. There’s no extra meaning to that. I just wanted to write about flowers.
If you would like to see more exploration of danger, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.