I look at the flowers on my bedside table, listening to the soft voice of the woman by my side. Elegant, pink blush camellias – one of my favourites. I can feel their velvety petals on my fingertips just looking at them. I’d always thought they were special – blooming in winter, a breath of new life when all else had died. Proof, perhaps, that life persists.
The woman reading to me… My daughter? No… My granddaughter. She reads stories and poems when she visits me. I don’t really hear the words, but her lilting voice carries to me on a wave, allowing my thoughts to wander, tempting my eyes to close, trying to lull me to sleep. I’m almost scared to sleep, but I am so very tired.
My gaze slides slowly once again towards the flowers, pink hues blurring, my eyelids heavy – they’re so beautiful. It’s wonderful, how flowers can wilt and wither, then be reborn. I’m ready to wither, I think, to see my husband again. My children are grown, with children of their own. I’ve had a good, long, full life. There’s nothing left for me to do… but it’s nice to believe that, maybe, we might bloom again.
The woman’s voice seems quieter now, I can’t hear much at all. The camellias seem faded in my clouding vision, but their light scent washes over me anew – encompassing me, folding me into an embrace like a warm blanket. I sigh, letting myself drift at last.
“She’s perfect, isn’t she, Tim?”
“She’s beautiful, Lils.”
Lily beamed at him, then turned her gaze back to the tiny, pink-faced person in her arms. Blue eyes gazed back, eyes that seemed so… full? The eyes of an old soul, her mother would say.
“We still need a name.” Tim muttered gently, his breath tickling Lily’s face as they crooned over their sweet girl, breathing in her soft, new baby smell.
A whisper floated into her mind, nudging a small, tentative idea to the forefront.
She frowned back at those blue eyes, stroking a peach fuzzed cheek, and smiled.