The little girl looked up at the branches of the tree sprawling above her head like so many fingers grasping for the wind. Throughout its branches were clustered the loveliest flowers she had ever seen–magnolias, grandma had called them.
They grew thick amidst the branches, as thick as the waxy petals themselves, which she picked up from the ground and pressed between her thumb and forefinger. Each white petal was streaked with the perfect hint of pink, and as she dug her nail into the fleshy perianth, she curiously examined the brown halfmoon left behind.
“Barbara, it’s time to go!” her mother called from the shade of the kitchen.
Casting one more glance at the pale bouquets brilliantly illuminated against the bright blue sky, the little girl silently and obediently headed for the car. She knew they would be back next week.
But by the next week something terrible had happened. The little girl gazed up at the tree and then down at the ground surrounding it. The substrate in which the tree dwelled was now carpeted in a thick layer of magnolia petals in various states of decay. The few that still clung to the branches appeared as brave soldiers breathing their last breaths, dutifully awaiting their turn to drop.
The little girl was devastated.
She looked up at the tree again, but this time she spotted one last full blossom at the very top, still radiant and full of life.
She was determined to save it.
The skirt of her lacy pink church dress struggled against her knees, threatening to bring her back down to earth, as she reached for the lowest branch. She paid no heed to the dirt that coated her white stockings, or the rough bark that dug into her palms–something she could deal with later.
It took only a few moments to reach the blossom, perched precariously on its thin branch.
The little girl stretched out her hand.
She grasped the specimen by its base and applied enough force to break it away from the source, but in doing so–to her horror–every single petal was shaken to the ground.
She was left holding nothing more than a stem.
The regret and sadness rose thick inside her heart. In trying to preserve the blossom, she had instead expedited its demise.
It’s easy enough to recognize the foolishness of that little girl–and yet, just as easily, we fail to recognize our own.
Like the little girl, we cling to temporary things, wanting them to last.
We cheapen precious moments, trying to keep them forever.
We miss out on something new as we try to hold onto something we have already lost.
We fail to notice that death gives birth to new life, and that even the most beautiful moments are meant to be appreciated and let go.
(C) 2021 Barbara Gray – no content may be used or reproduced without permission of the author.