Photo of Chris, an avid hiker, looking at Stave Lake from Hunter Trail in Mission, B.C.
FYI, I am not the only writer in this household. Below is a beautiful and moving story, written five years ago today (March 9), by my husband Chris.
Also, I have a special announcement at the bottom of this post. Be sure to check it out.
Here is The Purple Flower by Chris Ryan
Summer of 2015 was a hot one for us here in B.C. and it started in the month of June.
As Heather has always done, we would go to the nursery to get flowers for her pots and our front garden. She would painstakingly work preparing the soil, weeding the flower beds and loving every minute of getting her hands dirty. This was her sanctuary and she loved to feel the dirt between her fingers as she lovingly laid the plants and flowers into the ground. With the amount of dry hot days, keeping those flowers and plants from drying up and dying off meant daily watering. As June turned into July and Heather’s disease progressed, she didn’t have the strength or wherewithal to keep up with the watering so that fell to me to do. Now I have never enjoyed planting flowers or feeling the grit of the dirt between my fingers, so watering the plants should be an easy task. Boy was I wrong.
Early on, I had constant reminders to water the flowers, and I did as any good husband would do. I listened and did what I was told!
When Heather went into palliative care I was living at the hospital. I would escape every night to come home and water the plants and shower, then back to the hospital to be with Heather. I was doing a pretty good job of keeping up with the flowers until Heather went into hospice care. As life for our family was getting real, let’s just say that watering the flowers and plants didn’t have the same priority it once had. After five days with no water, in the heat wave we were going through, the flowers and plants started to dry up and die.
There was one planter in particular on the first step by the front entrance, the flower in it was purple in colour and it had shrivelled up to nothing. For the record, I don’t know what kind of flower it was. For those who know Heather, the colour purple was her favourite colour. To see what had happened to this poor plant was a shame. Well, what did I know about dealing with something like this? So I did what any green thumbed horticulturist would do. I watered the plant even though I knew it didn’t have a chance. In a way it was a microcosm of what we were going through with Heather.
The day after Heather’s passing, when the girls and I came home from hospice and I was bringing in everything we had brought home with us, there in that pot were two little sprouts of purple flower. At that moment I felt it was a sign from Heather that she was okay, and in a small way I knew we would be okay too.
Five days later, we went on our trip to Hawaii that we had planned back in June. When we arrived home a week later, as I was carrying the luggage into the house, that purple flower was now in full bloom. It had come back fully while every other flower was dried up. This one flower came back. This is what we call a God moment, when He reaches out and communicates with you. We had just gone through a tough time and here is the love and mercy that God was shining on our family.
The purple flower ended up drying up and finally dying off after the first frost. I left it there over the winter months wanting to see if it would come back in the spring.
Over the last few weeks we have had spring-like weather here on the West Coast, but that beautiful purple flower has not come back. However, we have so many other purple flowers that have popped up all over the yard and garden that Heather is upon us at every turn. I can’t explain where the ones in the garden have come from as I have never seen them before, but they are beautiful nonetheless. This past Sunday, as I was going to church, I looked down at that pot on the first step by the front entrance and there sprouting up from the earth were two miniature daffodils.
Although the purple flower hasn’t come back, (even I know with the little gardening knowledge I possess that it never will) in its place comes the birth of these two little flowers. Again, this is yet another God moment. The message is that Heather is okay and so am I.
Christopher Daniel Ryan
Thank you Chris for allowing me to share this special story!
Here we are in March already and spring is showing it’s beautiful face (and many purple flowers) on the West Coast of B.C. March 4th was just last week. I love March 4th for two reasons: it’s the only day of the year that tells you to do something AND March 4th (5 years ago) was the day I met Chris through the beautiful letter he sent me. Chris and I will never move on from Heather and Mike, they are forever in our hearts and with us wherever we go, but our motto is to “march forth.” In other words, keep moving forward in God’s plans and in His hands.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Here is my special announcement: Recently I was interviewed by Lorie Hartshorn, host of the TV show, The 700 Club Canada. My interview airs on March 16. If you’d like to watch, click here for stations and times.