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In this time of year when missing our loved ones seems more intense, recent widow Sharon Wilson reflects on love everlasting: God’s promise to us.

Last spring, I decided to start some flowers from seed. It seemed fitting to make them forget-me-nots in honor of Dave, my late husband.  

This fear of forgetting your loved one who has passed away is an irrational fear. Dave is everywhere. Forgetting is not an option. But doing daily things, like tending to new seedlings, is something that feels like a hopeful way to remember them. 

I picked up the seeds on an impulse at the dollar store. No expense spared here! I added some soil and some small seed starter pots to my basket and I was on my way.  

Soon I had gangly seedlings, then oblong leaves. At last, spring truly came to Minnesota, and I planted them in the front planter where every year Dave got to choose which flowers were planted in this only spot I gave him control over.  

I noticed that there was some variation in the leaves on the plants that were sprouting, but I just attributed it to varying access to light.  

Soon, a few of the sturdier ones shot straight up while others bowed closer to the ground, fell over the sides, and crept out to reach more light.  




Familiar tiny blue flowers formed on the reclining stalks. My forget-me-nots had arrived! But the sturdy stalks just kept rising upward. They were now more than three feet tall, much too tall of the entryway container.  

Once they began to flower, I became aware that these were not the flowers I had planted. A quick Google search with the image of the new buds showed me an entirely different species.  

These flowers were Xerochrysum bracteatum, commonly known as the golden everlasting or strawflower.  

Another quick Google search led me to find out that it is considered a symbol of immortality. Strawflowers also represent someone or something that is “always remembered.” 

Was it a dollar store mistake or a magnificent miracle? My belief in eternity, the afterlife, and my faith in general has been waning. Sometimes I wonder if I am like that seed that falls on rocky ground and has no roots. Once, I believed in God with joy—and now, I doubt.  


On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Matthew 13:1-9) 


Many people see their loved ones in symbols and glimpses of the afterlife. My friend Deb Hadley, who tragically lost both of her adult children, sees the purple and white flowers that mysteriously follow her as symbols of her children reaching out to comfort her. Was Dave trying to tell me something, or was this a dollar store mishap?   

Should I be focusing more on the afterlife, on eternity, than I am on grieving him and holding his memory? If I could only KNOW that he was in a better place—that heaven was real—that somehow, he is still with me and would be always. If I knew that the love we shared is still alive somehow, then maybe I could think of him with joy. If I believed these things, then maybe my faith would grow roots. God promises us these things.  


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If I knew that the love we shared is still alive somehow, then maybe I could think of him with joy. #CatholicMom


My forget-me nots have all died away and the strawflowers have been hit with frost—but their flower buds, hard to the touch like straw, are as bright as ever.  

Once they are picked and dried, I will keep them in a vase to remind me not just of this special message that Dave may be trying to send me, but that like their sturdy growth upward as if they are striving for heaven, the flowers themselves remind me that love itself is everlasting.  



Copyright 2023 Sharon Wilson
Images: Canva