He gave this flower to a teacher

He came into my office one cold day last October. Had a glorious rose in his hand.

“Look what I got!” he exclaimed with an excited smile. I agreed that it was beautiful.

He asked me if I’d hold on to it for him. Of course I agreed. Set it on the windowsill in my office, where plenty of sunlight shines in. Days, weeks, months went by, and the rose dried up on my windowsill and became preserved as I waited for him to return. I reminded myself that each person has to return in his or her own time. That process can’t be rushed.

The preservation process of the flower also had to happen at its own pace. I realized that if that natural pace was respected, a new beauty would be revealed. And it was true; the flower, in its death, had taken on a new kind of beauty. It seemed perhaps even more beautiful, in some ways. Once or twice I briefly considered throwing the flower away, but it was so amazing that I simply couldn’t. I’d hold onto it for just awhile longer.

Fast forward three or four months.

Two or three weeks ago I happened to see him in class. I ran to my office and grabbed the flower. Took it into the classroom, where students were gathering for class, which would start in just a few minutes. I tried to discreetly show him the flower without attracting too much attention. (Wasn’t sure how “cool” it would be.) “Hey! Look what I still have!” He looked at it and looked away casually… and I realized maybe I wasn’t being very cool. Not very cool at all.

Oh well. I told him he could have it back if he still wanted it, and I returned it to my windowsill.

The morning I heard about his death, there were a lot of things for me to do. In the midst of my business, I spotted the flower, the aura of which now seemed to hold a lot more emotional gravity. First I thought, “Wow… I have such a beautiful keepsake.” Then I thought, “wait a minute… there’s someone else who would truly appreciate this.”

I took it to Durango Art Supply. My new best friend Sarah created the perfect shadowbox for this important occasion. Tomorrow, at the memorial service, I’ll give this to his mother. I’ll tell her this story. And she’ll have some small token of her son’s sensitivity and appreciation for beauty.

I know nothing will ever take away her pain. But maybe this can make that pain just a tiny bit easier to bear. I sure hope so.

Durango Herald article April 24, 2011: click here

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