It’s slightly astounding what can change in the span of a day, Mai-Lin thought as she watched her children run throughout the garden, following the graceful flight of a Monarch butterfly high above their grasp.
Their small feet trampled the ground near her prize-winning azaleas as their laughter carried throughout the garden. The two ran about, unstoppable in their determination, completely oblivious to the layout of the garden that had been reworked several times by several top professionals, costing them a six-figure sum.
Mai-Lin had thought it was worth it at the time. And when her garden had a small feature in Better Homes & Gardens, she had squealed, purchased multiple copies of the magazine, and shoved the photos before her husband’s face, heralding her great triumph.
Now, she saw it for the waste it truly was.
How many times had she yelled at her children to stay away from her garden? To stop messing up her flowers? To stop trying to smell her roses?
Now, she didn’t care if they trampled the whole thing, as long as they had a good time.
She leaned against the rail of the deck, enjoying her children’s pursuit as tears filled her eyes.
Her children had one grandmother’s beautifully shaped eyes and their other grandmother’s reddish brown hair. Their freckles were becoming even more evident as they aged. But she wondered if she would be around to see all of their features fully develop. At the ages of 7 and 5, Mai-Lin wondered if she would see her children lose more teeth, let alone graduate high school or get married.
She stifled the sadness before it turned into outright sobbing and brushed her cheeks so her children wouldn’t worry.
The doctor’s office had called an hour ago right before she was about to tell Evelyn and Ethan, yet again, to stay out of the garden. Her test results had come back. She was going to need more appointments. Things were worse than they had expected.
She couldn’t tell her children. She didn’t even know how she was going to tell her husband when he got home from work.
Mai-Lin dragged her mind away from the unknown and uncertain. For the first time in years, she focused more on her children’s toothless smiles and their puckish laughter than the flowers she used to appreciate.
The monarch butterfly gently lighted on a flower and stayed there motionless as the two drew closer and stared. She watched her children marvel at the insect and inside she determined to fight for more days like this one, regardless of how hard the battle ahead might be.