petals

July 23rd, 2017

When my daughter was three years old she was asked to be the flower girl in a family wedding. I’d never been a flower girl, so I felt as though all my aspirations for her had been fulfilled. We’d get the fancy dress, the shiny shoes, the crown of flowers: it would be perfect. But as the date approached I was stressed. She was three, for heaven’s sake. How could I could keep her awake, good-humored, and adorable at an evening wedding past her bedtime without a nap? (I thought like this quite a bit.)

The doors of the hotel ballroom opened and the wedding guests turned to see a tiny girl enter with a basket. She walked forward all by herself, dropping handfuls of petals with great seriousness until she stopped abruptly just halfway down the aisle. Then she tore out running the rest of the way to the front until she could hide herself on my lap. Her basket had emptied, you see, and she couldn’t keep going without petals to throw. It was precious, but for years after she would say that she ruined the wedding.

This summer my daughter is 17, and she is spending a month in New York City taking classes before her last year of high school. The night she moved into the dorm, she texted me: “miss you.”

I responded immediately as if she needed me to. But she didn’t need me that night, or any other.

Over the weeks, her messages have been scant and short.

I love it.
I love my roommate.
I love my teachers.
I love NYU.
I love the city.
I love you.

They are petals, dropped on the far side of the aisle, from a full basket.

8 Comments »

  1. Oh, how this post touched me! Cleansing tears. Thank you!

    Comment by Donn King — July 23, 2017 @ 9:17 am

  2. This piece is SO lovely Karen, I was tearful reading it today – remembering my daughter at age 3 and sending her and now my 13 yr. old granddaughter my loving thoughts as they drive to her 1st experience at overnight camp. I can so well feel with you the hope mixed with amazement that accompanies our children on as they set off on their own paths! You and your words are a blessing! Thank you for your courage and guidance as we try to navigate this life! Fondly, Penny

    Comment by Penny Ballantyne — July 23, 2017 @ 11:07 am

  3. Beautiful!

    Comment by Jane — July 23, 2017 @ 1:50 pm

  4. Beautiful.
    Our eldest just left for a sailingcamp. Petals in her basket I guess.

    Comment by Sim — July 24, 2017 @ 1:41 am

  5. Oh Maezen♡

    Comment by Kirsten — July 24, 2017 @ 3:15 am

  6. You really ought to be a Zen teacher. Calm, insightful, nourishing.

    Comment by Bill — July 24, 2017 @ 2:34 pm

  7. Beautiful, Maezen.

    Wonderfully rendered, as always.

    Comment by Steven — July 26, 2017 @ 4:54 pm

  8. How did I miss this until today? Petals indeed. You can say more with a few short words than any writer I know. My own basket is full right now.

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — August 1, 2017 @ 1:15 pm

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