Flower for an hour

Illness is treated very differently through our lives as well as throughout the world with factors such as age or social habits taken into consideration when dealing with patients. A sick baby attracts more attention than someone in their late twenties, and propriety begs you visit a bedridden octogenarian even if their illness will automatically induce nods and morbid predictions. So if it’s all a matter of decorum or pre-determined fears, where does love fit in the sick world?

Having been in the sick bed recently, I was able to observe the visiting traffic from the opposite perspective, to analyse the different interactions illness provoked in front of me. First, to make things clear, I was in a two-bed hospital room. I therefore wasn’t alone and had to endure frequent visits from strangers coming to celebrate the ongoing life of my neighbours – how riveting.
First, there was a young lady who had just given birth; her friends and family catwalked right past my bed all day bringing flowers and nibbling on chocolate and whatever her husband had spread for the occasion. Conversation was basic, no intrigue, no passion moved their lips except when the offered candy graced their tongues – I’d visit patients every day if I knew I’d be rewarded with food!
Then, when mother and child were given the green signal, an elderly woman replaced her in the white sheets opposite the room. Accompanying her were her son and daughter, both probably in their sixties, alternating smile and pensive pout, worried what the future held for the matriarch of the family. They had no visitors, choosing to remain within the tight bonds of blood, communicating the same banalities they usually exchanged, “did you talk to x?”, “what’s the name of that honey you bought?”. They knew the risks, repeated her age to whoever asked what was wrong, nodded…she’s old, we all know what to expect.

Come to think of it, we deal with illness the way we deal with a beautiful flower bouquet: we hold it carefully, lay it down slowly, talk about it, photograph it with pride…then after a few days, our grip gets more careless, we change the water less often, we don’t talk about it much anymore because we know it won’t last long. We sometimes hang it to dry, stare at the withered petals with affection, nostalgia, and if bugs start clinging to it, we simply throw it away, unfazed. I was a flower bouquet this week, and somehow, I was put in a pot. You don’t take pictures of potted flowers, they’re here to stay, safe…as long as you water them.

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The perks of my quirks

We all have these little habits, pet peeves, random fears, phobias and superstitious inclinations, some are outspoken about them, others less so, but nonetheless we are all guilty of some unexplained quirkiness, and it could be the most interesting part of us, whether we’d like to admit it or hide from it.

When I was a kid, I had this odd fear of bunnies, mostly the white ones. You know those tiny furry lovable creatures which rarely harm anything…yeah those. I used to stare at them in awe because I truly found them beautiful, but if you tried pushing one closer to me, I’d run away. Later on in life, I traced my fear back to a strange incident in my childhood, something one could almost qualify as a “made in china” phobia. Around the age of 4 or 5 I had been given a toy rabbit, white, red eyes and barely any fur. It was pretty on the outside but touch it and you’d realize it was a thin plastic carcass with barely enough plush to hide it. I can almost remember the touch of it, the bony structure of its body that would send shivers up my spine at the mere sensation of it. For years, the idea of a rabbit coincided with that skeletal toy, and just seeing one would project me into a distressing daze where I’d be caressing a carcass. Needless to say I still have visions of that horrible toy every time I see a bunny, but my brain now understands how far reality and Chinese products are from each other.

Another random fear my childhood brought me was from sunflowers. Of all the flowers in the prairy, that is the one I saw most growing up, spending 2 to 3 months each year in the French countryside. We’d walk near whole fields of it, and one thing always struck me as oddly disturbing; in the morning they’d be facing the sun as if part of some yogi salutation ritual, and at sundown they’d be turning their yellow heads away, all crumpled up and sad looking, faces towards the ground. They almost looked human, feeling, as if they understood the death of day was imminent and they were already mourning it. It might sound poetic said by my 26 year old adult self, but child me used to be terrified by the mere idea of human flowers, living stalks parading their emotions on their stage of soil.

I don’t know if I’d have preferred not thinking so oddly about what surrounded me as a kid, mystifying my surroundings almost built who I’ve become and most importantly who I was as a blossoming plant myself; the way I perceived the world was and will always be so inherent to my personality that, deprived of it, I might have been more serene, but also so much duller.