Updated: May 11, 2022
By Madison Litchford
I’ve always loved flowers. I walk through the very poor selection of flowers that the grocery store offers. The aisle is mostly made up of half-dead roses: red roses that have shriveled just slightly, pink roses with leaves that have started to grow brittle, and yellow roses that are very clearly missing petals. It's all a bit underwhelming. As I grow nearer the end of the aisle, I spot a bouquet of daisies. They’re perfect. Careful not to tear off any petals, I grab them from the stand they’re in and begin to make my way back to the front. The cashier doesn’t speak outside of giving me my total as she rings up the flowers. I can’t blame her. It’s early still, the sun barely peeking over the horizon. I nod to her as I turn to leave the store.
The flowers are for my daughter. It’s her fifth birthday, and she loves flowers the same way I do. I guess that’s my fault. When she was two we went out into the countryside and looked for flowers. We stopped to eat, parked on the side of the road near a meadow full of Shasta daisies. I explained to her, as best anyone could explain to a toddler, that those were the kind of flowers she was named after. Every day after, she would insist that I tell her about different kinds of flowers. She loved that her name was something so pretty. I actually have pictures of her on her third birthday running through that meadow. I can still hear her little giggles.
She wore a blue plaid dress that day. She called it her Dorothy dress. It really did look a lot like Dorothy’s dress from The Wizard of Oz, but I bought it because it made her beautiful blue eyes pop. She even made me braid her brown curls into pigtails. I did so gladly because it made her happy, but I’d always preferred her hair down. I did, however, draw the line at buying her a new pair of red shoes. When we got to the field of flowers, she lay down and started to fake snore. When I asked her what she was doing, she explained, without opening her eyes, that the flowers made Dorothy fall asleep. Naturally, I laid down next to her and started to snore too. Eventually, I was able to convince her to “wake up” so I could take pictures.
I am brought out of my musings by the sound of a car horn. I look up and realize I’m sitting still at a green light. Shaking off the memories, a small smile on my lips, I focus on getting to Daisy. The sun has risen higher in the sky, and it’s starting to get a little warmer. Traffic is starting to grow heavier as people head to work and school. I always go to her first thing in the morning with flowers on her birthday. It’s a bit of a drive since she’s been with her dad since a little after her fourth birthday, but I don’t mind. I miss my little squirt. I see her once a week, but her birthday is special.
Once I park, I pull the keys from the ignition and grab the flowers. I walk up the hill, pausing to fumble the latch on the gate. It squeaks as I pull it open. The sound is familiar, almost comforting. I walk a little farther. She’s in the same place she always is. I kneel next to her.
“Happy birthday, baby,” I whisper. She doesn’t reply. She never does. My hands shake as I lay the flowers on the ground in front of the headstone. “I miss you, Daisy.” I stare at the stone for a few seconds before letting my eyes drift to the one next to it. It reads, “Daniel M. Clay.” Daniel is my husband. “You’d better be taking good care of her, love.” I close my eyes against tears. Pushing myself to my feet, I say a little prayer for my family. It’s been almost a year since the car accident, and it’s been the hardest eight months of my life, but I’m starting to heal, or so my therapist says. I’m not sure you can ever heal from what I’ve got. I take one last steadying breath before turning away from the graves. The sun is warm on my face, and, for just a second, I hear Daisy laugh. I smile. Maybe I am healing. As I’m walking back to my car, I catch sight of the entire cemetery from the top of the hill. Every grave has flowers, giving the place an oddly cheerful appearance. I can just make out the bouquet of daisies on my daughter’s grave. Their white petals shine in the bright sunlight. As beautiful as they are, it’s a bittersweet sight. Everything good seems to be tainted by loss these days. I shake my head as I turn away. I’ve always loved flowers.
Madison Litchford is a student in the Early College program at CVCC. She is also a junior at Heritage High School.