August 14 will forever be a special day because on that day in 2006 our dear friend Laura’s life here on earth ended. Sunflowers will also be forever special because of how they surrounded Laura in her final weeks. The story is really quite amazing. 

Before her brain cancer diagnosis Laura had not lived with her mom for quite some time, as she was a vibrant 25-year-old. She did have a room at her mom’s house, though – in the basement – her own special retreat. Mom’s bedroom was on the main floor with windows overlooking the perennial gardens in the back of the house. Flowers galore decorated the yard year after year. But in the summer of 2006, as Laura’s health declined, new flowers appeared in the yard that had never been there in previous years. Amazingly, they surrounded a corner sunroom of the house that, by July, was converted to a room for Laura, as she was by then bed-bound and needed to be on the main floor of the house. The sunflowers grew taller and taller, until they created a blanket around the windows of Laura’s room.

One might think these were an amazing gift for Laura. But she didn’t really care about them. She focused her attention on the door of the room and out into the living room, as she wanted to see her visitors. The sunflowers were for the friends and family. The expressions of amazement whenever anyone visited filled everyone with joy.

Most amazingly these flowers were gifts brought by the birds – planted to surround Laura’s family in their time of need. It’s the same thing we people do. It is our instinct to take or send flowers when someone is ill, going through a rough time, or grieving the loss of a loved one. Before August 2006 I never paid attention to the fact that the birds taught us this lovely gesture! 

So when I see sunflowers, yes I think of Laura – and I smile. Laura had a gift for making everyone smile, so of course she would have a symbol to stay with the rest of us for years and years to make us smile.

Today we celebrate sunflowers and celebrate the joy Laura brought to our lives.

What divine gifts have you found to celebrate the life of a loved one?

photo by raincliffs  photography