White Carnation by Diana Norman

Diana Norman is an Easthampton resident. She is new to the publishing world, proud to have seven pieces recently accepted for publication.

White Carnation

Colorful tulips nod in the breeze, and clumps of yellow and white daffodils huddle together as early spring winds waft across the hill. My family has worshiped in this small red-brick church since it was built in 1804.

Today as Daddy opens the heavy oak door, the smell of carnations in the vestibule takes my breath away. Uncle Burt smiles as he pins a red posy to my collar and then a white one on Mom’s lapel.

As we sit side by side listening to the hymns, I look all around the pews. Just girls and women have flowers, but some girls and ladies have red carnations, and others have white.

“Why are the flowers different colors, Mama?” I whisper in her ear.

Mama leans down so her face brushes my cheek. “If someone is wearing a white flower, it means her mother has died.” Then she sits back up straight and shakes her ‘no more’ finger.

Forty-something years ago, I moved far from the little red brick church. I’ve visited often over the years though.

This year on Mother’s Day, if I returned to my home church, the flower on my collar would be white for the first time. My Mom died just as the Coronavirus began to spread its dark shadow.

Travails come to us all. Mourning a loved one or adjusting to the life-changing pandemic that engulfs us, are paths of pain, fear, and sadness which we have no choice but to struggle through.

I’m afraid of this virus, and what it will mean for the world we once knew. I was frightened about the grieving process when my Mom died too.

As I sit at the kitchen table now before the sewing machine on which my Mom taught me to sew, I imagine her hand squeezing my shoulder, comforting me. I know Mom will always be with me. I know she’d be proud. I’m a mask-maker, going forward, making my way.