Crossing my fingers, it appears that finally I can do simple things like turning over in my bed without screaming, get my clothes on without help, ditch the cane for most of the day, get myself into the car in less than five minutes, and remain pain free until I overdo, when pain then jerks me back to my limitation. Trust me, that’s all improvement.

We tripped out to Avon this past weekend to the 50 acres of sunflowers honoring the memory of Maria McNamara, a little girl gone from us all too soon. It was hot, hot, steaming hot, so our stay was short. A number of tag photos of children who have died of the ravages of cancer are gently threaded through parts of the field so we know they have been here if only for a little while.

There is a sad poignancy to the place, mixed with hope that there will come a day when we don’t lose anyone to cancer. Fifty acres of sunflowers makes a brilliant statement about the meaning of loss.  And hope. Hope from Maria. There is comfort in this living salute  to  the beauty of children, the joy of childhood, the reminder that this little girl and countless other children have been lost to us, leaving behind the captured fragrance of their existence. I came away thankful that I made the drive, grateful that for one brief time a little girl was bright sunshine to those who knew her, loved her, miss her. She is the symbol of all we cherish in this nation held in the memory of a child.

By the third week of this month, thousands of sunflowers will shed their seeds and be gone. The field will be plowed and the cycle will begin again with the planting of new seeds. I didn’t expect to be so moved by this quiet spectacle standing beside I-90 off in the distance. Because the day was so hot, there were only six cars in the parking lot, where often there are a couple of hundred. I stood panting in the heat along with the sunflowers longing for rain. It’s been a notably dry summer, and the bill to water fifty acres comes in at about fifteen thousand dollars a month. Those who meet that bill and pay it are to be commended. Every single person who stops by to see the glory is blessed and indebted to them . Every single sunflower honors the memory of a child. Think about that for a minute.

I don’t know how many fields like this one exist across the nation. I know of another near Unionville, in Pennsylvania. Likely there are many others. I’ll hold this memory for a long time, grateful that such a place exists to remind us that childhood is very brief, and even shorter when children are taken from us before they’ve hardly bloomed.

Take a trip this weekend to Avon. Walk among the nodding heads, heavy with seeds of hope. Take a sun umbrella. There is a quiet spirituality drifting above the heads of laughing children, and parents, and grandparents. There is a sense, for me, that despite the reason for the field, a golden memorial full of life and hope stands tall in the sun, defining the true value of life.

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