It thrives in cold climates. Lives in rocky, wet places. Prefers to be up high. On a mountain where the snow stays longest. Harsh conditions are best. Where it's strongest. Toughest.
Sounds romantic doesn't it? It's not.
It's lonely, cold. Harsh. The reality of this awesome place takes your breath away in its majestic beauty, but it also rips you apart. Bruises. Batters. Yet this is where, if you're brave, you find a small, delicate, violet flower. A Snowbell.
Snowbells grow under the snow. Imagine a domed roof
of crystal. Sounds enchanting. Magical. It's incubated. Living in a warm haven from the cold world outside. Safe. But it
doesn't stay there. It pushes through its protective palace. To blossom. To reveal its hidden beauty.
I first learn about this little flower just days before my mom calls with news that brings quick tears to my eyes. My beloved, loving aunt has passed away... For four days I hid in my house, watching what my housemate calls "depressing" movies. I'm caught off guard when she says that. To me they are deep and inspiring stories. I reluctantly pull back and examine them. They are depressing. All the films I choose are about eccentric, dysfunctional families. Where someone dies and the rest try to figure out how to keep going after their loved ones are gone.
This is how I process. I watch movies that remind me of my wonderful, quirky family. I cry with the characters as they learn how to say goodbye because, the truth is, I can't be with my family. I'm half way across the world from them.
I hate goodbyes.
I hate harsh realities.
But a little, purple flower keeps slapping me in the face.
Life is a lot like a Snowbell. Only I never feel quite ready to break into the cold world. There are moments I think I'm brave. Think that I'll push forward. But its a lot harder than I imagine. My aunt is gone and now there's a big hole.
I mourn. But not for her. She's in a better place. She's pain free and experiencing real life. She's pushed through the last snowflake domed roof this life can throw at her.
Her beauty is no longer hidden.
I want to be like her and the Snowbell.
I can't join her. She's gone where I cannot follow. At least not right now. But I can and must use the hard things life throws at me to grow. I must push through life's snow domed impossibilities. Like saying goodbye. I realize I haven't made my heart public yet. My family has filled the pages of Facebook with their heart. I can't. It's not safe and all the words in the world feel empty and hollow. I can say I love her, it's true. I can say that I miss her. That I hurt for the family she leaves behind. It's all true but the words still feel void. Just like the emptiness I feel knowing I'll never hug her again. Never again hear her familiar, wonderful laughter. Laughter that tells me I am home. That I am with my family.
But I'm trying to be like my aunt. And like the Snowbell.
I must be vulnerable and brave.
Even when brick walls try to smother my progress. I must live. Really live. So here's my heart. It hurts. I'm confused. I miss my family. I miss my aunt... I remember she once bought me a thick, red towel. I remember she talked funny when she said "I love you, Cari". I remember she took me to Casa Bonita and the movies. I remember when she got excited about the plays she was in. I remember singing in the car with her and my cousins. I remember when she let herself be vulnerable in front of me and cried. I remember she opened her car by putting the remote under her chin. It always made me laugh. Seems silly that this is what I remember most. That silly remote. But it's real and the memories bring fresh pain. Just like the icy cold the Snowbell must feel the first time the bud pushes against the snow dome.
Letting the pain in doesn't feel good, but it's healthy. How else does the Snowbell reveal its bright royal colors? How else do we learn to really laugh?
And joy comes in the morning. I know it. The glorious sun shines down on the Snowbell and keeps it warm. The bright light causes the snow to sparkle. The Comforter stands next to my family. Next to me. I can release the pain and let the beauty in. I can laugh again.
My family is all together today, celebrating the life of my aunt. I wish I was there, but I'm still half way across the world. I hear the funeral was wonderful. Heart-warming. I'm not surprised. She was an amazing, loving woman. A great mother and wife. A wonderful aunt. I hear its snowing there now. Filling that world with wonderful, clean snow. How miraculous. My aunt. The Snowbell. Adorned with diamond jewels of crystalline snow.
No longer hidden.