I was only 9 years old when I lost my mother to terminal cancer. At that time I remember thinking why was this happening to me? My mother was more than just my parent she was my best friend and taught me vulnerable lessons about life. Today is my mother's birthday and every year my father and I cook a delicious supper as family and friends join us.
After supper, I sit outside on the swing that is in my parent's backyard. This swing brings back so many memories of that summer 5 years ago. During my mother's dying days, I did all I could to spend as much time with her as possible. The swing is like a time machine it takes me back to that summer when my mother pushed me on the swing and told me how much she loved me.
I could hear my mother's gentle voice in the wind and the sound of my laughter seem to be so clear.
5 summers back Apple is sitting on the same swing but is 9 years old.
"Higher! I want to go higher!" 9-year-old Apple shouts with laughter.
"How high?" Apple's mother says with a smile.
"High enough so that I can touch the sky."
Apple's mother stops pushing her and walks in front of Apple so that she could be face to face with her.
"You know sooner or later mommy will be in the sky."
"Will I be able to visit you?"
"I don't know yet, but once I do I'll come to you in your dreams."
Apple hops off of the swing and into her mother's arms.
"Don't cry, my sweet Apple. I have all of the time to spend with you."
Without a sound, Apple's tears fell down her face. Apple's mother lifts Apple's face out of her arms and grabs her hand. Apple holds on to her mother's pale hand as they both walk to the garden that she and her mother had planted. As their bodies sit in the center of the garden Apple's mother picks one of the sunflowers that stood out from the rest.
"Think of this sunflower as me Apple.
Beautiful, healthy, and full of life."
"It's hard to think of you as a sunflower, mommy."
"Because the sunflower still has a long journey ahead of it yours will be cut short."
Apple's mother places the flower on her lap so that she can hold her daughter's hand.
"Apple, my sweet apple. Everything comes to an end."
"Everything. Life is temporary which is why you should enjoy it. Promise me something Apple. Promise me that you will cherish life as long as you live. Even when I'm gone."
"I promise mommy."
14-year old Apple sits on the swing as the taste of tears fills her dry mouth.
"Apple?" The voice came from her father Franklin.
"Everyone was wondering where you had run off to."
"I didn't run I just needed some fresh air I'll be back inside in a few minutes."
Franklin sits on the ground beside Apple starting a conversation about her late mother.
"I know that the backyard is full of memories for you Apple."
"Yeah, it's like as soon as I sit on the swing I could hear my 9-year-old self laughing as mommy pushes me from behind."
"She would've been so proud of you. You start high school in the fall. Your mother would've been so proud to see you growing. Before she got sick she would tell me how much she loved seeing you grow every day."
"Yeah, you know it was her idea of naming you Apple. I wanted to name you Beauty because I loved Beauty and the Beast but your mother wasn't buying. So one day when your mother was pregnant with you we stopped by the fruit stand on the way home and we saw a batch of apples. I remember your mother staring at those apples as if they were magic or something. Then she said I'm naming our daughter Apple. Not because it's a fruit but because I know she will be sweet and fruitful."
Apple stares at her father as she bawls out with tears.
"I've never heard that story before. Thanks for sharing it with me daddy."
Franklin gets himself off of the ground and hugs Apple tight.
"It'll be ok Apple. You've got me."
As family and friends surround the table with a chocolate cake and burning candles. Apple smiles with joy.
Even though I can't physically touch my mother I have great memories of her when she was living on this earth. She taught me so many things although I was too young to comprehend most of them I understand it now.
My mother was right when she mentioned to me that life is temporary. It is and so is everything else that relates to life. We spend most of our time on earth thinking about things that won't matter in a day. We must teach ourselves to live in the present moment and capture every minute of the day because those are the things that will matter the next day.
We often think that when our loved ones finally leave this earth that we will never see them again. We are told by our loved ones that we will see them in heaven. Well, that's half of the truth the other half is that they've never left our sides. They are with us when we are sleeping. They are even with us when we are sad, happy, lost, and furthermore. So don't think that just because we can't see them physically that they are not with us because that's not true.
Shortly after everyone left from celebrating my mother's birthday I stare at the swing in our backyard from the kitchen window.
At the first glance, I saw the same wooden swing but when I glanced again it appeared to me that something was placed on the swing.
I opened the back door to the backyard and walked closer to the swing to get a closer look. When I approached the swing a beautiful sunflower laid across it.
Tears immediately ran down my face. I know it was you, mommy, happy birthday.