Flowers filled my sister Betty’s hospital room: roses, tulips and carnations of all colors.
But the rubrum lily was her favorite. She knew she wasn’t long for this world, but whenever she looked at the vibrant, bright pink lilies, she assured me that a gentle peace washed over her.
After she died that summer, my husband bought a rubrum lily. He hoped that Betty’s favorite plant could comfort me as it did her.
Unfortunately the speckled, pink blooms brought me anything but peace. The flowers only reminded me of Betty in the hospital, getting weaker by the day. It seemed right that the plant withered by fall.
“Why don’t we plant the bulb outside?” Jim suggested. “If it survives the winter you might feel differently about it come spring. I have some other bulbs I should have already put in the ground too. It’s no trouble.”
Wisconsin winters are brutal. Even though lilies are hardy, we didn’t have much hope it—or anything else—would survive. But Jim planted the bulbs anyway.
Come spring we were pleasantly surprised: a single green shoot appeared. Only one out of all the new bulbs we planted, but it was something. Probably one of the daffodils, I figured. But as the shoot grew I saw I was wrong. What was this strong, brave plant? I got closer. It was my sister’s rubrum lily.
Betty had weakened during the last days of her life, but she was strong again in heaven. As strong as the bright pink lily that gave me peace. Just as Jim had hoped.
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