The White Lily This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

November 1, 2011
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I can never forget the moment that seems to replay in my mind. The first feeling that penetrates through my entire body and my mind like a compelling wave is one that cannot be expressed. I try to keep my emotions together to prevent them from diffusing, yet only failing to do so. If the heart is the most active part of the body, then that is where my emotions are hiding at the moment. As I take a hesitant step, one after another, I try to recall the days in the past, only to be disturbed again by the approaching reality ahead of me. Everything just washes over me like a dream—the unfamiliar scent of aroma circulating within the room, people in casual, black dresses and attires reflecting the gloomy atmosphere, and all sorts of flowers illuminating the place with varieties of color. But all the while, I only fix my gaze in one place, and that was the picture of my great-grandma.

Until the age of nine, it became a habitual task for my family to visit my great-grandmother who lived four hours away from us in an old countryside. Every other weekend, we headed toward our destination with an hour long drive and another three hours on an over-sized ship. I liked the country and the idea of going to the countryside, but the four-hour trip displeased me; but more so, I did not completely feel comfortable seeing my great-grandmother every time we went to visit her. My great-grandmother’s farm is probably the most tranquil, unperturbed place that I have been to, with the balmy breeze waving at the tip of my face. My responsibility on the farm was one that I absolutely loved doing: feeding the cows, dogs, chickens, and clearing up the hays. But this sense of thrill and excitement was brushed off the instant I saw my great-grandmother. I immediately stopped on my tracks and hid myself behind my mom who was looking down at me shamefully. However, I did not budge from my position and only gradually looked up at the face of my great-grandmother who seemed to be glaring down at me coldly with a bleak, deserted expression that I could not tell. Her vacant expression gave me the impression of an austere sergeant, which I felt terrified and never dared to initiate a conversation with her. When it came to dinner time and everyone was sharing a word of contentment or laughing heartily at the comments, I distanced myself more and more away from my great-grandmother.

After that visit, however, it was not until three months later that I saw my great-grandmother again. Never did I know that the previous visit to the farm would be my very last one. I unexpectedly saw my great-grandmother at my grandparent’s house. I became curious and anxious; I wondered if she had sold the farm and moved in with my grandparents. The moment I stepped into the house, however, I immediately sensed the peculiar air—something was wrong. My grandma hushed me and led me inside her lofty ceiling, past the two huge pillars, and toward the guest room. I wanted to ask her what was going on, but for the first time, I saw in her face an expression of extreme exhaustion, uneasiness, distress, and sorrow. It was not until later that I found out that my great-grandma had become ill, was moved to a grand hospital, and was moved again to my grandparent’s house after inquiring to be under the care of my grandma when no further progression could be achieved in the hospital any longer. My grandma motioned for me to go in the closed door of the guest room with her hand, but I was hesitant. In fact, I did not want to go in at all. I was scared—extremely scared. Restraining myself, I slowly turned the knob and stepped in. There was a solid, queer smell that hit me in a powerful sense. It was a much too familiar room. Yet, when I saw a motionless figure across from me, lying on the bed that I used to sleep in when I visited my grandparents, my heart sank unknowingly. Something triggered inside me. Perhaps it was because of the sense that it was only the two of us in a room for the first time. Or perhaps it was a dreadful fear—fear that something might happen to her. But at that instant, I wanted her to know that I confided in her and that I cared about her. For every heavy, burdensome breath she inhaled and exhaled, my whole soul seemed to vanish further and further down until it could reach no more. Very cautiously, I called out to her silently hoping she would answer, but there was only the sound of more intensity. I ached to hear her voice, to hear her talk in response to me; the only response that came from her was the empty stare. Yet through those black eyes, I saw a sadness, hope, and peace. That was the last time I saw my great-grandmother.

Standing still at the moment, the sight of the funeral made every single of my joints and muscles ridgid. I did not know what to feel. I stood perplexed, not knowing what I should do. There were vibrant and bright flowers of all sorts placed on each side. Yet, they appeared colorless to me. Gradually approaching the front desk that had a handful of flowers placed, I reached out and took a white lily in my hand. Then, cautiously walking toward where the picture of my great grandma was, I placed the white lily in front of the picture. At the moment,
that seemed like the only right thing I could do for her. It was the only way to express my desperate feelings.

If you have ever heard the phrase “Time is Golden,” it is probably a right thing to consider how that phrase would fit into your life. I definitely regret the time of not spending the days with my great-grandmother in fullest. The white lily is more than a symbol for peace, love, and appreciation for my great-grandma; it signifies the forgiveness of myself, realization, and the stem of the boundless memories with my great-grandmother.

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