Today I planted chrysanthemums in my little corner of the yard that I can sit and look out upon. Before putting them in the ground, I had to pull weeds that had overtaken the little growing seedling trees that had been trying to gain some strength all summer long, a smattering of rose moss and a few nicotenia plants that were blooming. In the very most point of the little corner stands the yucca with it's spikey leaves and shoots where blossoms once were, now seed pods.

All the while that I pulled those weeds today, my mind was centered on my dear and beloved friend Shirley. My God-picked sister from Louisiana. Shirley has been in the hospital now three weeks. And in the duration of those three weeks has stayed fairly well incoherent and unable to converse with me or much of anyone. She barely knows her surroundings at all. She was put into ICU this morning because they could not register a blood pressure for her. She was supposed to have an endoscopy today to find the source of bleeding she's endured, but first needed to be stabilized.

My gardening attempt, despite the physical pain of the day, was an attempt to DO SOMETHING in an entirely helpless situation and to keep my mind occupied in the midst of it all. Here I am, over a thousand miles away and totally unable to even speak to my dearest friend.

It's odd how things work out in life. Ten years ago I was new to things like message boards and support forums online. I'd never really ever heard of them, but found one I did. It was a tiny obscure little thing run by a Pastor John in California, on forums. It's where Shirley and I first met.

We were both scared to give out too much information about ourselves on the "Big Bad Internet"...and took our time writing one another and getting to know what each of us was about. In time, we became deep personal friends. There was hardly a day go by that we didn't talk on the phone, share our joys and frustrations, our aches and pains (having much the same illnesses), laugh together, cry together, and become all around best buddies. She is the sister I never had in life. (I have two for real birth sisters that at times, have seemed more casual acquaintances in life to me, although I hope that changes...I consider Shirl my very real sister). She and I have a spiritual bond, which is understandable since she has been convinced from the start that God brought us together. She too has sisters (as well as brothers) that she is not able to be close to in life.

And sometimes, God creates family where there is no real sense of one. Such is the case for shirley.

As I bent to pull each weed, I kept saying, "This is for you, Shirl". I thought of the "weeds" that had crowded into her life over the last few years trying to choke out her color and fragrance in life. Every time a deep rooted weed had it's ugly tendrils wrapped around her, she set about whacking it day at a time until it was effectively gone. And all the while, she would let that wonderful bloom of hers shine forth in her little garden for everyone to see. How could anyone not be blessed witnessing this brightly blooming flower amongst such a powerful weed bed? And on I pulled.

These weeds I was working on pulled relatively easily, unlike the major monstrous ones she faced with her health. But all I could think of was that here was a little corner that I was going to brighten the best that I could... just like shirley had done for so many around her. How she would enjoy sitting out with her "critters", watching and laughing at the antics of Petey, and the rest of the gang that consists of chipmunks, squirrels, and the multitude of birds that co-habitate with her and hubby Joe in their back yard. She and I would share our critter tales often from day to day.

I know Shirley would love the flowers in all their glory that I was planting on her behalf today. And I will love seeing them spread out and brighten their little corner with the rusts, yellows, magentas and golds that will pop and be magnified with the autumn's sunny days ahead. And I can hardly wait to be able to tell her that she has a special place of prominence in the little corner of our tiny back yard that has flowers planted in her honor alone. I'll come back out when they've grown and multiplied into brilliant bushes of glorious color and fragrant blooms to take pictures of Shirley's little flower garden, just so I can Email them to her when she's feeling better.

And each day I look out and see them, or catch a whiff of their distinct fragrance, I will definitely think of Shirl. And until we can talk again and share and catch up on the bits and pieces of life's goings on together... they will be my reminder of her importance in my life, and the lives of all who know her.

She is the flower that grew out of the rock. The one that stands out above the rest. The eye-catcher in a world of all the same kind in the flower bed. She is the sister that God gave me, and today... she's the little corner of beautiful color in my flower garden.

linda marie pharaoh-carlson┬ęcopyright, all rights reserved 8/19/06

Willow On The Water - Enya

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