My cell phone buzzed on the coffee table. I sighed and answered it.
“Hello?” I said in a dull tone.
“Leah? It’s your sister, Tiffany. Mom’s in the hospital.” She said.
I just sat there for a second. I stared off into space. Then I grabbed my keys as fast as lightening. I raced out of my dorm. My roommate stopped me by the entrance.
“Hey Leah, where are you going, you’re going to miss class!” She said.
“Don’t care.” I said back, pushing her out of the way.
She gave me a questioning look.
“My mom is in the hospital!” I screamed in her face. I ran out the door and raced to the emergency room.
That was four months ago. I had debated moving back to Seattle after college. Now, without my mother to hold me in Cleveland, I was free. I liked being stuck here rather than my mother being dead.
I noticed the garden across the street when I was walking to the grocery store one day. I remembered my mother’s Rose bush she had when I was a little girl. Then the doctor diagnosed her with ALS. The roses died. My sister went away to college. My mom went into a nursing home for a while. Then she came out and my sister and I moved to Cleveland to take care of her. A cold drop interrupted my thoughts. It rolled down my cheek. I wiped it away. That night I bought a packet of rosebush seeds.
When I came back to the garden I looked around for a shovel. I wanted to buy one the night before, but I didn’t have enough money. A woman leaned a small shovel against a wall and walked away. I quickly grabbed it. I searched for an open spot of land and dug as fast as I could into the ground. Someone tapped my shoulder. I pushed them away and kept digging. The person grabbed the shovel.
“Hey!” I yelled.
“This is my shovel you stole.” She said calmly.
“Oh.” I put my head down sadly.
“What are you planting?” She asked.
“Doesn’t matter,” I said walking away.
“You can borrow it,” she called after me.
I turned around and took it and went back to digging. We talked as I dug and planted. She wanted to know a lot about my mother, so I told her the whole story. Then she told me about her granny and the goldenrod she planted. It was getting late by then, so I told her I had to go. Before I left she told me I could keep the shovel.
When I came back to the garden a couple days later I saw a boy pulling weeds out from around the seeds I planted. It was very early in the morning and the sun was just rising. There was barely anybody at the garden. He looked up from the dirt. I noticed that his hands were rough and scratched like sandpaper. He saw me. So I walked over and said thank you.
“You should check on them every day, water them and weed ‘em,” He said.
I nodded. Then he walked off. But I didn’t notice where he went because I was focused of my roses. A small speck of green was coming out of the ground. It was withered and sad looking. I watered it thoroughly. I had planned on going back to school right away, but instead I sat down on the ground next to my mound of dirt. I took my textbook out of my backpack and studied. It started to get very hot so I went back to my dorm.
I came back that evening, when it had cooled off again. I watered my roses again. Right next to them was some goldenrod. I gently picked it up. I knew exactly what to do with it. I ran to the nearest bus stop and hoped on the bus. I was anxious the whole ride, but held onto the small flower with care.
When I got off the bus, I ran to the spot and dropped to my knees. I laid the goldenrod down gently right in front of mom’s headstone.
On my way back I called some friends and did some favors and earned enough money to buy a small shovel, and a pair of gloves.
Then I smiled, which was something I hadn’t done in a long time.