broken flowers

This weekend, I spent time with a friend while she grieved the small and the not-so-small of life—the personal, the political, the theoretical dreads and disappointments we all face as human beings. While weeping, she apologized, describing how she thought her despair was somehow unbecoming. I told her, no, that mourning is one of life's beautiful expressions. Perhaps it was because of the time I'd spent with flowers that morning—the vibrant pinkish rhododendron blossoms fading to antique white with spoiling ruffled golden edges, the tulips held in a glass vase, their stems arching and bowing, their petals relaxed and splayed revealing delicate stamen before surrendering them to the earth, withered and crepey—that made me think that our response to life's tragedies, like a flower's gorgeous death, can be beautiful, too.

Often, I surrender to my deepest sorrow at times unexpected, like when I closed and latched the French doors this afternoon before I realized Calvin's pinkie finger was caught in the hinge. He was silent at first, in his excruciation, then wailed and writhed in so much pain I could not console him. When he finally calmed, I wept, sorry for having hurt him, sorry for all the pain he must suffer on a daily basis—brain, guts, bones—which we can't control, sorry for the gorgeous mess that is our life together. We are like broken flowers, exquisite, flawed, weeping.

As I finished this up, Michael and I heard a tremendous crack and felt the ground shake with a thump. We peered out trying to identify the source. Next door, a gigantic limb from a one-hundred-year-old maple had fallen, taking down power lines with it, having missed grazing our house by twenty feet, and now leaning into a neighboring spruce. The sound of splitting bark and flesh is like no other. The sensation of thousands of pounds of bough pounding earth felt in my heart like the bass at a rave. It is beautiful; it is awful. It is all the glorious stuff of life.