Hope is the thing.
It sits on my shoulder, sometimes with wings, and sometimes I fear, like an anvil weighing me down. I guess that’s because hope is, in some ways, a double-edged sword. I have had this discussion throughout my lifetime, for example as it pertains to world peace, or even peace in our neighborhoods. Am I a fool to believe that such a thing is possible? Am I a fool to believe that people are inherently good when there are those among us who callously inflict emotional, and most disturbingly, physical pain on us?
I am I guess, what you would call a highly emotional person. I am unusually passionate, and while it can be a blessing in some ways, it is also a curse, as my empathy knows no proper bounds. I suffer on behalf of others and I suffer my own private grief that often feels never-ending.
When I was a kid my grandmother lived with me and she loved plants, so we had them all over the house, but mostly piled up against the huge dining room bay window in the back of the house. She loved this so called Christmas cactus the best, I guess because it was fun to have something that bloomed so beautifully in the middle of winter. I never knew I loved these plants, tokens of my childhood until my mother and my grandmother decided to move at some point and it was determined that the plants would not be going. She asked me if I wanted them. I didn’t, --they were monstrous at 15 years old and they rarely bloomed. They were considered to be indoor potted eyesores by my siblings and mother. But I took them, because they were my grandmother’s, and because she wanted me to have them.
Over the years I have lugged those plants (a pair of them in 12 inch wide pots) every time I have moved, most recently into my own small condo. They take up a lot of room, but mainly that is because I have attached a lot of importance to them and they have flourished, even with very limited sun and space. They are now 40 plus years old. They have become a symbol for me, a symbol of love. I talk to them, as they are representative of her, of my relationship with my long deceased grandmother. I pray to her often, as my guardian, and over the past few years I have gotten bold and I have asked for signs that she could hear me. It is silly I know, to ask for signs, but I have learned that the signs are what you make of them and  that if they bring you comfort then there is no harm. I began asking for flowers, “Let them bloom” I would beseech her, “I need a sign, I am desperate.” Occasionally I would get a flower, and I would be filled with joy. But the past couple of years have not seen many flowers and, as I was going through a relatively happy phase in my life, felt loved, it was suggested to me by a friend that perhaps the reason I was not seeing many flowers was because I did not need them so much. I accepted that assessment and it made me happy.
That is not the case today. The past few months have been for me the worst I have endured in my almost 50 years of life. I would find myself kneeling at the base of these plants pleading, in desperation for help, for signs, for some measure of comfort. I needed to have hope.
I was given a card once that contained a quote by Samuel L. Barrett:
“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”
One of the reasons I have emerged from my despair is because one day a few weeks ago, as I was pushing aside the curtains by my bed I spotted the buds. I had to sit, catch my breath, as I was stunned at what I was seeing after so much time. Not just one or two tiny buds, but more than I could count.
Maybe this is the reason people bring flowers in times of happiness and during times of great sadness; delicate blooms bursting with color are symbols of hope. Maybe it is hope that we can endure, move past pain and find a way towards happiness again. In any case, truer words were never written.
Where flowers bloom so does hope.

Quintesse Quintesse
51-55, F
29 Responses Dec 16, 2012

Thank you I could have clarity on things. So true if flowers bloom, hope too. Your stories. Make so much sense. Thank you Friend

I just wanted to lift you and give you ...hope.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing such a personal and beautiful story. Okay, I will tell you why I believe. If I wanted to give someone a sign, I would do it in such a way that there would be no doubt that it was from me. You know?

There are many, many stories like ours that people tell of signs. I believe in them all, in many cases because they are irrefutable, but also because I want to believe, I LOVE believing. I feel that it makes life more full and more fun. It's as simple as that.

Oh, and then there is that part about how it makes me feel loved and less alone...

Yeah. There's love. Therefore it passes my test for reality.

I am so glad you got this out for us. Even with cobwebs it would have been wonderful. Thank you.

I have no trouble thinking that it was your grandmother. Perhaps a couple of my experiences will lighten your thoughts even more in that regard. The two people I looked to the most were an aunt and my daddy. She was a consummate seamstress and spent no small amount of time teaching me. When she died I was given some things from her sewing basket -- a quilting needle, some leather finger protectors for quilting and a pin cushion. She had handmade all except the needle. One day shortly after she died I was doing some quilting with her needle and wondering if I still had her attention and love, and the needle broke. Surely a coincidence, yes. But, well I have done a LOT of hand sewing. I have gone through a lot of needles, having lost them, bent them, and dulled them, but that's the only one that has broken while I was using it. Then there are my Daddy's pliers that he carried every day of his life from my earliest memory. I keep them on a shelf with his photo, but I get them down when I need pliers. One day I was sewing heavy cloth with heavy thread. The eye of the needle wasn't really quite big enough for the thread, so I was using Daddy's pliers to pull each stitch through. The last stitch needed to go through a fold and I couldn't get it to go. I had finally decided to put a staple in it and tack a cover over the staple points but it came to me to try one more time, first telling Daddy about the problem and asking him to help. The needle then pulled through easily. Less of a chance for coincidence, but it could have been. Never mind. There was the feeling of love and caring and joy and newfound wonder. Those things are real.

(But there is a source of each of those events that is real, too. Surely your grandmother's love is with you in those plants. Because you deserve it.)

Thank you!. I just pulled this story out and blew the cobwebs off of it for a friend today--to help inspire HER. But I need it now too, to remember to have faith, and to have hope especially.
Thanks for reading, and for your enthusiasm. It is fun.

Oh so awesome !! Thank you.

I still have hope. Despite it all, I still have hope and that is my redemption.

I like "One more time." I also like that you came here and lifted my spirits today. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you for understanding. Maybe both of our grandmother's are inspiring us to fight the good fight. Here's to having hope. I think we'll both be okay one day soon.
Thanks Oso.

Thanks Jen.
I'm going to take this opportunity to say that the cactus is still blooming, has been since sometime in Mid November before I wrote this. (Today is March 6th) It is almost finished at this point, but there are still buds emerging. I think that is some kind of record...
Oh, and I still have hope...

Thank You!

I burst out crying and didn't stop all weekend long. Then the next Tuesday I found myself (no lie) in a first grade classroom, subbing, and I was having some serious post traumatic stress. I haven't been able to shake it. I hold back tears every morning I put my little one on the bus...
Hope indeed, hope that someday we won't have to live in fear. This is where my empathy gets me, and then it just devolves into full blown depression, that I fight on a daily basis.
I think a lot of people cried that day.

Thanks NotSoCrazy. The respect goes both ways. <br />
This one is special to me. I wrote it the weekend of the school shootings. I couldn't stop crying. I feel like we have to have hope that things will get better, always, but I was losing hope in humanity. I was looking for it anywhere I could find it. I found hope in my bedroom by the window...It helped sustain me. <br />
<br />
And as an aside, that thing is still blooming like crazy. It started at the end of November. This must be some kind of record...<br />
Thank you for your nice compliment. I like you too.

I can hear that little voice most days, dreamgirl. But thanks for reminding me to listen closely, because there are other days when the noise in my head gets to be deafening, and I forget.

Thanks. This story means a lot to me.

I love science, and I especially love melding my limited knowledge of the universe/physics and all of its wonder/nature, with my interpretation of god and spirituality. I make it all work in my head and it gives me joy. Also--it means I positively have an answer for everything, haha.

Hope is one of those intangibles that smacks me in the face when I awake and it has the leading role in my prayers as I drift off to sleep. It's what keeps me going.
Thanks for saying this is a beautiful story. Sometimes I know I get a little sappy, but I love my grandmother and I love those plants more than I should. This story means a lot to me. Thanks for reading it and for commenting so nicely.

What a beautiful story - and equally beautiful flowers. Despite being a scientist who is supposed to rely only on logic, I place a great deal of value on hope. It is, after all, the only thing a lot of us have.

“When you have lost hope, you have lost everything. And when you think all is lost, when all is dire and bleak, there is always hope.” ~ Pittacus Lore

It's good to be back. Thank you!
I have an abundance of faith and hope on any given day. I only wish someone could have been with me the day I spotted the tiny buds. I gasped audibly, like I wanted to say to someone, "Look!"
It was a nice moment, and as it turns out, it is the little miracle that just keeps on giving...there are new buds every day. This has been going on for weeks. I will only tell you this though. Shhh come here...I pick up the dead flowers as they drop from the floor and kiss them before I dispose of them. I am either losing it, or I have found a way to make a houseplant blooming unexpectedly into some kind of spiritual experience. Either way, it turned things around for me. Thanks, you.

God can speak to us in sooooo many ways. I would expect nothing less, remember you are a spiritual being having a human experience nothing more, nothing less

It is so good to have you back. You know with a generous helping of hope and a pinch of faith anything is possible

AKindHeart. I am truly sorry for your loss and pain, and I am really touched by your comment. I'm not usually one to attach too much sentiment to "things" because I understand that they could be lost/destroyed, but I cannot help but feel a kinship with plants as I am really in tune with the natural world and living things. I can't seem to help that. So, it's not really a stretch for me to be having a relationship with a houseplant. That is nothing new. They bring me joy, and as evidenced here, it can get pretty emotional.

What you and I are doing is, I think, very therapeutic and healthy--and so is moving them, even if that involves digging it up as you suggest. Nothing wrong with that as far as I'm concerned. They are symbols, and symbols are powerful, as you and I know. I say good for us. May our plants thrive with the love that we give them. Thanks so much for your comment.

"Flowers represent life and love and hope." I really like that. Thank you.
(and no giving up over here)

Ronanp, Maybe a cutting. I swear, I'm not sure if this is always the case, but if I break a piece off one of these plants (acccidentally-it happens) and I stick it in a cup of water it roots in about a week. Stick that in some dirt and you're off making cactus babies in no time. Of course if you ever do decide to take the original plant somewhere be sure to invest in a hand truck to be safe. I learned that, um, the hard way...
I loved what you wrote about how your mom has one and how it is symbolic for you. I got a little choked up at your comment. I'm glad to know that others feel this way. I have heard of many of these being in families and living for generations. I find that amazing but cacti are pretty hardy. The blooms really are unique and wonderful though, and like I said, mine blooms throughout the year. I have just never seen anything like what I got this year. I can't explain it, nor do I want to try really. I am just enjoying it immensely. Thanks so much.

A wet paper towel in a ziplock should do the trick. Yeah! I'm happy for you. You have a plan!

I can so relate to your story. When I lost my only daughter 5 years ago, all I had left were memories and the flowers from her funeral. To this day I have managed to save about 6 of these plants. One I recently put into the ground outside my house AND I will be taking it if i should move. I have willed them to live to keep her memory alive. Flowers represent life and love and hope..dont give up...

Thanks Tas, sincerely. The color should be particularly attractive to you, I bet. Smooch, Thank you too. The card is one of the most beautiful I have ever received, suitable for framing actually, and the quote, in its simplicity, is moving for me because I like to look for answers in nature. Thanks for the nice compliment. I appreciate it.<br />
And formerWarrior, thank you too. I like that you wrote "hidden promise" Exactly!

This is a very beautiful story

Lovely pics :)

Crazy, houseplants say "home" to me. I have been known to buy mine at the supermarket, because I feel sorry for them. I have what is commonly referred to as a green thumb, but mostly I think it is because I love them that they thrive.

And Mary, I thank you for your good wishes. I actually think the plants have exhausted themselves with this most recent effort, but I will always look forward to more flowers. By the way, this plant does not only bloom at Christmas but has been known to pop them out at all times of year, haha.

And Joey, I like what you said about hope. Perhaps it is like love, always there waiting for you to tap into it.
All I know is that I hang onto it for dear life, and if a flower can remind to do that then I feel fortunate for the aforementioned green thumb, and just possibly, the power of prayer.

Thanks you guys for these thoughtful comments. You've inspired me today.

Hope springs eternal.

There are times when hope is all around us and we take it for granted. But there are times when hope evades us. It's always there, just not obvious.

Green things always die in my house. It's a gift that my wife and I have. Hopefully, it's a sign that we have a lit of other things going on.

Beautiful pictures. :)

May they bloom a thousand times, Q.

I like them any way they come, but I understand what you are saying. Once when I received some roses I carried them around the house with me, brought them upstairs with me at night and down again in the morning. It was as if I didn't want to leave them, I was so grateful for the gift. First they open wider, but then, naturally, they begin to change/die a little each day. It is all beautiful though, if you ask me, all of it, the natural wonder of it.
I think it makes people feel good to leave flowers as a symbol, during times of sadness and grief because for many, just the sight of them conjurs a sense of hope. It does for me anyway.

You are so good to me b. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Much love right back at you old friend.
I am really reaching here this day though, trying to find hope amidst such sadness. It's not easy. Like everyone, I feel really broken.
As always, thank you for reading and for commenting. It feel good, having friends like you.

Very nice miss Q.

Much Love from me