I woke up this morning with a sense of rejuvenation that I haven’t felt in years. Perhaps, it could tie into my old age; but I like to think about this newfound blossoming as a realization of sorts – the reckoning finally knocking on my balcony. And what host would I be to not let the reckoning into my own home, possibly serving it some tea while it wreaks havoc onto the life I’ve oh so meticulously created. You would know, right?
I’m sorry for my carelessness. You’re probably expecting a sweet, heartwarming letter from the humble housewife, one that sweeps around the home twice over, tends to the garden with a sore back and muddy knees, and twiddles her thumbs awaiting the glorious arrival of the wonderful husband to bound up her doorstep. I remember the times that I greatly anticipated your presence, peppering you with hugs and kisses and your favorite meals.
Did you ever notice the moment I stopped caring about you or your wellbeing; stopped blooming under the artificial light of our home; stopped loving the man I thought I had married long ago?
Do you watch me as I pass by under the moonlight, a ghost of the vibrant woman I used to be?
Or do you not care, maybe you never did. I don’t blame you.
Yet you will never set me free.
I’m in the mood to tell a story today. You would praise me for this, claim that I’m finally showing the motherly attributes every woman surely has. I’ll recall a story that I hope you’ll remember for ages, retell to strangers at the dinner parties you enjoy, and ponder about in the late hours of the night when all that will haunt you is the ghost of your lover. I want to be on your mind as much as you’ve been on mine since the day we met.
This is the story of a young girl, the daffodils she planted, and the wings she buried.
A rip on the page.
Growing up in a small town, her wings were buried under the pretence of traditional values and family ties. The eyes were watching her, trailing along with her withering figure as she stumbled to and fro from the kitchen – the place where only a woman could belong. The hand that birthed her of life had stripped her from the very meaning that life was worth living for. She was nothing but the wet lime tablecloth rubbed clean on smooth tabletops; the dirt smeared against the Welcome mat her mother once cherished; the wilted flowers that none of the family seemed to care for any longer in the garden – a forgotten domestic dream.
Being trapped within the confinement of her home was suffocating, surely, if she couldn’t push her god-given boundaries to the very edge of familial acceptance. She instead found refuge in the garden. As a young girl, she would stand beside her mother in the blistering heat – sweat dripping down her neck, slow and steady, watching patiently for the gentle hands that birthed life right before her very eyes. The process was magnetic to her, giving and receiving. Her mother grew weary of the garden, the more time she spent balancing a household that no one dared to speak in; and, the daughter replaced the empty role that her mother could no longer fill, burying herself and her time with the multitudes of flowers and greens. Any time away from the house was a good time, a constant prayer in her muddled thoughts.
Flowers spoke to her in a way no one else could. Her mother, though greatly adored and loved by her, was too meek – a coward, so to speak; and, watching the backbone of her family be bent and twisted beyond her will was horrifying, so much so that the young girl spoke out for her no matter the consequences. Her father was different: harsh as a blade against supple skin, cold as the beginnings of snowfall in November, unforgiving in a way that left the household tiptoeing around the sleeping beast. She learned the art of silence and the art of letting her silence bloom.
The clock struck midnight in the sunny suburban household, the metaphorical pin-drop, when her father’s last breath thawed her home with a thin and fragile sheet of ice. The absence of her father left her toppled by his bedside, blonde hair as fragile as hay fawning over his cold limbs. She despised him and everything he represented. His chokehold over their family was a frequent part of her life; and, when the grip finally loosened, she didn’t know how to gasp for air. How could she breathe when this life is all she’s ever known?
She knew he was dead. Yet she would wake up at night, breathless, at the thought of her father’s murmuring prayers of a savior before his passing. She had a final moment at his funeral when, after the rest of their family members migrated outside of the quaint church, she mumbled to her meek mother about her whereabouts before turning into the church once more. They decided that it was appropriate for the funeral to take place at the one building destiny bound her father to, the words of the Bible constantly slipping past his lips like how water flows down rivers. He wouldn’t want it any other way, she realized, staring down at his lifeless blue eyes. How ironic that his eyes were no different than the eyes that shifted to her every move when he was alive. Even between life and death, her father died as lifelessly as he breathed. The realization that her father was truly dead left her weak at the knees, pale hands tightly gripping onto the edge of the casket. She expected the feeling of euphoria, a bright smile finally gracing her lips after so many years of tight-lipped grimaces; yet, she could only stare into the emptiness that was her dead father, an oak casket, and the shadows of the church around her.
Even as a young adult, she rarely prayed – Lord forgive me.
Lord forgive me for the mistakes I have made, and the mistakes I am willing to do.
The mistake knocked on her chipped door at the moment that the sun was edging onto the horizon – a golden glow stroking the arches of his face in soft light. He was soft, like the warmth of a cotton tee straight out of the laundry; overbearingly bright, like the sun that settles onto him like a new calling; and an opportunity, a chance that she grasped at with her eager hands. He was new to the neighborhood, had wanted to stop by; and, she couldn’t help but giggle into her pillowcase over the prospect of love with a guy like him – truly too good for this world, for someone like her… a god’s gift. She fell in love with the rawness of him, his willingness to explore new heights, his dedication to the Church and his family, and the way he would whisper in her ear about a future with them and their bountiful garden. She fell in love with him.
Was it him, or was it the idea of him? She was no longer sure.
The garden he once promised her is wilted. The soil is infertile. The flowers are dead and buried deep beside her father. She was once desperate to grow out of the girl she was, but now it is all she wants to be. A younger version of herself, confused yet free of the burdens of man. She spent the last moments of her past life outside her home, the household of the sleeping beast that had slept for thousands of years, and she couldn’t dare to let go. Yet, with the promising press of her husband’s hand against hers, she forced herself to look away from the amber eyes of the world around her. She wanted to leave this neighborhood, she knew it for a fact, yet her roots remained ingrained in the soil. Her husband ultimately ripped them free. She once wanted to thank him for the act, for saving her. The words that now slip out of her mouth are desolate and empty.
In the end, she realized that the only person that could save her was herself, and not the barren walls of a lifeless home. The structure was the same, winding hallways and rooms with empty beds, yet it was not the same as a home. There was no love inside these walls. She knew that now more than ever. She had loved her husband once, the man bounded to her doorstep many moons ago. She can only have room to love one person, and the only person she will ever love is herself.
She planted daffodils in the garden this morning. Those were her favorite flowers as a child, back when her mother’s warm embrace and her father’s domineering figure was all she ever knew or wanted. I know I can’t bring them back, nor did I ever want to end up like them – stuck in a loveless marriage that sucks me dry. I know I caused this to myself in my own sick, twisted way. Yet the story could end in two different ways: the death of a girl I once knew, or the blossoming of daffodils as bright as the sun and stars.
Read this letter as a farewell, whatever you may please.
When I’m gone, look outside our kitchen window towards the garden, and watch the daffodils of your former lover bloom.