99: Wild Snapdragons

99: Wild Snapdragons

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven

Wild Snapdragons

Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.

~Gérard de Nerval

I never believed in those “signs” from the dearly departed. You know, the pennies from heaven type stories that everyone tells. I did feel my mom’s presence after she died, especially when I was recovering from my own cancer surgery and lying wide awake through the night. But to see real, tangible things sent from the dead seemed to be asking a bit much. Then my fiancé died.

I was the one who wasn’t going to make it — I was the one with the cancer diagnosis. Bob took care of me through surgeries and chemotherapy. Two years after my diagnosis, when it finally felt like I would be a survivor, Bob left the house one day never to return. He died of a massive heart attack.

Along with shock and devastating sadness, I had survivor’s guilt and an incredible anger. Just when our lives had started getting back to normal, he was gone. After sixteen years, my best friend and cheerleader, lover and constant support, was not coming back. We had built a life doing everything together — renovating houses, working on crafts, and most importantly landscaping and gardening. Although beautiful lawns were Bob’s specialty, he had a way with flowers too — mostly the perennials that would come back year after year. I took care of the annual flowers, which he had been happy to turn over to me. Especially since each year he’d try to grow snapdragons and they would always die.

Early in the spring, six months after Bob’s death, I was walking around the house when I noticed something green coming up through the landscape stones. A weed, I thought, and left it, deciding it was too early to be pulling weeds. A few days later, I noticed a similar weed growing back by the shed — again in stones, not in the garden beds. And then, on the other side of the house, in the sand between the red brick pavers — the same type of green weed. It took a while, but then I knew; they weren’t weeds, they were plants. On the first warm spring day, albeit out of season, they bloomed. Snapdragons. I was surrounded by wild snapdragons, growing far from any flower gardens. They were different colors, vibrantly alive and showing up in the stones and between planks of treated wood and in the joints of the concrete driveway.

I’d ask everyone I knew — have you ever seen snapdragons grow wild? And always, people would say, “How could they? Although they are a gentle perennial, around this area they are grown as an annual flower. They don’t come back.” Since Bob died, they grow wild at my house. Of course, realistically speaking, birds could be getting the seeds and dropping them at my house — never in garden beds, of course, and only since Bob’s death. But that is as strange as any other reason. Flowers from heaven? Three years later and I still have my wild snapdragons showing up here and there, in different places, from spring until fall.

There have been other little signs — lights that stop working, then suddenly have no problems, or tools that fall from their hangers just when I need them. One day I was walking in the snow, and suddenly was lying flat on my stomach, my face on the ground. I felt the hand that pushed me, yet no one was there. Bob had always pushed me down in the snow when I least expected it. By then I had started to understand that he was still with me, and my reaction was the same as when he was alive — I laughed and told him to stop pushing me around! And I know he was laughing, too.

But those snapdragons. Everyone can see them, not just me. How often Bob and I talked about them; how annoyed he was that he could not make them grow. Yet now they are my wild flower and my constant reminder that Bob still loves me.

~Dale K. Perry

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