Tuesday, May 8, 2012


It was the gardenias that did it...

The start of teacher appreciation week prompted an unusual excitement in the girls as they gathered their homemade cards and made sure we arrived extra early with our bouquet. Monday of this yearly week is usually the day that the students bring a flower to their beloved teachers, thanking them for an incredible year of love and devotion. As I was arranging the flowers in a vase, one last student came in a little past the late bell, clutching some beautiful white flowers that she had picked from her yard. She happily handed them to me to be arranged with the rest of the flowers, commenting on how good they smelled. Without hesitation, I pulled the delicate petals to my nose...and a whirl of emotions and dread instantly took over my heart.
Its funny how the brain works sometimes...how our senses are often connected to our memories. Hearing certain Sarah Mclachlan songs instantly transport me back to the summer of 1998. Eating Wisconsin Cheddar Soup will always remind me of the days when I would skip school with friends to eat lunch at Atlanta Bread Company. Seeing Pez candy immediately sparks my memory of my grandmother holding me like a football while sprinting up the aisle of the church as I puked all the way to the bathroom. I had obviously eaten way too many Pez that day and couldn't touch the stuff for quite a few years after.
And the smell of gardenias...that delicately sweet, perfumy scent will always bring instant dread and a sense of intense fear to my heart as the memories of May 2008 come flooding back to my mind. You see, after a couple of months of speculation in regards to the health our newborn son, that month was the first time we knew that something was seriously wrong with our child. That was the month we were told that his medical oddities were not transient and the length of his life could be shortened. That was the month that I cried more and harder than I ever have in my entire life.
Seeking quiet time, I would walk or run in the evenings. During this time, I would beg God for strength and guidance as a mother and healing for my son. It was also during this quiet time that I mourned for the dreams I had envisioned for my child and our family and thought about the various scenarios and trials that may lie ahead of us in this new, frightening turn of events in our life. And as I would walk the streets of our neighborhood, the delicious smell of the budding gardenias in many of the neighboring yards would fill my nose.
Sometimes the smell is now a therapeutic scent...something to remind me of the amazing ways in which God blessed us during that tumultuous month and has continued to bless us so much since then. I am thankful for the life God has given us. Although my mind does still become encased with sadness of the uncertainties of my son's life, I no longer continuously dwell on the painful aspects, nor mourn the life Nathan does not have...because by the grace of our almighty God, this child is very much alive and enjoying his life. And so shall we.
But my heart still continues to be overtaken with sorrow this time each year when I smell the flowering gardenias that remind me of that fateful May, 4 years ago, when our lives changed forever.


Wanda on May 8, 2012 at 8:12 PM said...

Love that boy!

Ash on May 8, 2012 at 9:52 PM said...

I feel your heart this evening, as I'm in the midst of blogging and reflecting on similar feelings recently. I haven't been able to gather my thoughts in a way to tell the story as I hoped just yet, but you told yours beautifully. <3

Lok on May 9, 2012 at 12:48 PM said...

So beautiful.... I know you keep to the southern part of Mississippi as you drive through to Houston, but if you ever find yourself in central Mississippi, you have a place to stay any time!!

Bernard Gowens on May 19, 2012 at 2:08 PM said...

I love your ability to write and express your views and feelings--a talent to always cherish and for which to thank God. Bless my Great Grandson's heart and the beauty which he portrays with his wonderful personality in the midst of his afflictions. May God always bless you, Amber, and Jay, and Abey, and Emma, and Nate. We love you all so dearly.
The Great Grandparent Gowens'

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