After hearing about Andrea's brilliant idea to plant a purple flower in memory of Madeline Spohr, my boys and I set out Saturday morning on a mission to make a very lonely planter in our backyard beautiful again in celebration of a little girl who left us a year ago Wednesday.
I still miss her. I still think of her constantly. I can't see a shade of purple without thinking of Maddie's infectious smile. And then I ache. For her parents Heather and Mike, as a parent, as someone who held this precious little girl just a few weeks before...
As we drove to Home Depot, I told the boys what we were doing. Why we were doing it. Rather than complain or scuffle their feet in reluctance, the boys were oddly intent on helping.
We picked out the purplest rose we could find
and the boys took turn smelling how fragrant it was...
We picked out a couple of the most purple African Violets we could find
and took our bounty to the car and loaded up, ready to get to work.
Shovels in hand, my boys ceased their normal fighting and bickering to pitch in and be helpful
turning this box of nothingness into a beautiful garden for Maddie.
They each had their questions. Hard questions. Ones I wasn't quite sure how to answer appropriately so I did my best to be honest.
I had to swallow back tears several times. Teetering between putting myself in Heather and Mike's place - God, what if it were one of my kids? While completely in awe at my own sons - Wow. Look at how much my boys care about a little girl they never met.
"But why did she get sick, mommy?"
"How come some people get to live to be 100 years old, mom?"
"Do you think she'll like these flowers, mom?"
"Will she see these flowers, mommy?"
"Maybe we can have her mommy and daddy over for dinner so they can see them. I'll bet they would like steak."
I had to catch my breath.
As we finished patting down the soil around the last flower, I stood back and admired the garden, telling the boys, "You guys did a great job. You should be proud. Look at your beautiful flowers!"
To Mike and Heather:
My heart aches for you every single day. I love the way you keep Maddie's spirit alive through blog posts and photographs and stories and the foundation. You are amazing people.
Little girl, we miss you so much. Those of us who had the pleasure of meeting you and the hundreds of thousands of people who have simply read about you and forever been changed by your story. You are a bright spirit and a flower always in bloom.
Count the garden by the flowers, never by the leaves that fall.
Count your life with smiles and not the tears that roll.