The violets in our yard bloomed white the year after my mom died. I turned nineteen a few months before their halcyon heads craned through the sharp green blades of grass, pure and at peace. In our neighbor’s yard, purple. Our violets were white.
My mother’s given name was Ljubičica— Violet when translated from Serbian to English. Despite my doubts, since I remember them as the blue-grey of a barely overcast sky, her sisters confirm it as canon: the baby of the family was named for her eyes, the color of purple wild flowers in dewy spring grass.
Growing up, my brother, sister, and I would present my mom with puerile fistfuls of her delicate namesake each spring. Even when I was too old to pick them for her, and especially after she died, just the sight of their vibrant bowing heads was a message: I am blooming for your mom.
I became a mother at the age of twenty-eight, after a decade of struggling to know who I was as a woman. My mother’s first name became my daughter’s middle. I loved my child, yet I didn’t know how to plant my feet during those first dry hard years of young motherhood. It’s not that I wasn’t bound to my husband or my faith or my child, but I felt untethered. As if I were a tree swing, with one rope tied to the branch above, and the other laying with a frayed edge on the ground. I’d move with the wind, but was ineffective.
Since my daugher was born, I longed to write. To offer my heart, so if she ever found herself as I am now: a woman, a mother, without her mother, she could know me and also know herself. But I was scared.
My oldest daughter turned ten last summer, and this is the first spring of her life where I’ve felt rooted, grounded, healthy, and blooming as I was meant to. Two years ago, I started writing and soon after, we pursued adoption, another desire for our family. My daughter can’t fully grasp it yet, but I want her to have a blueprint for her own blossoming in the future.
We walked home from school the other day, my four kids and I welcomed the spring sun during a break in the rainy weather. One of the neighbors has a brown and white granite rock the size of a small car in their front lawn. The kids love to climb and jump from it. As my little ones took their turn, I stepped closer, protective yet allowing their freedom, and noticed small patches of violets flowering on the other side of the rock.
I walked over and knelt down by one group of flowers. With paper thin petals between my fingers, I called to my daughter. “Look! These violets are blooming white,” I whisper and smile.
It’s a message for both of us: we’re blooming for you.
Sonya Spillmann writes about motherhood, faith, and adoption on her blog spillingover.com. She is a part of the Coffee+Crumbs writing team and was in DC’s 2015 Listen To Your Mother show. She lives outside of DC with her husband and four kids.