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The Bright Side: Orchids

Many of us have experienced some type of loss at one point or another throughout our life thus far. I have spoken with several people throughout my lifetime that have suffered a loss and find peace through other people, memories or even something as simple as a bird, gemstone or letter.

For me, that sense of peace comes in the form of an orchid.

I lost a friend over the summer, someone who I looked up to and felt understood me in a way that most people never will. We met when I was a young teenager and despite our significant age gap, we became very close friends. Her name was Anna and she really loved orchids.

Anna and I met through our local YMCA in Pennsylvania. We were both swim instructors and would teach in lanes right next to one another on weekday nights. Anna was a firecracker; someone who wasn’t afraid to share her opinions, but would welcome new ones with open arms.

Anna had two sons and a husband, all of whom she adored. She taught me a lot about what it meant to love someone while I was still figuring out what love truly was. And her orchids played a big role in teaching me what love is all about.

If you know anything about orchids, you probably know they are finicky flowers. Beautiful, but can be difficult to keep alive. As Anna and I would sit at her kitchen counter in the mid-afternoon and talk about life, she would go over and put a few ice cubes on her gorgeous magenta and white orchids that sat by the windowsill.

I asked her why she put ice cubes on her orchids roots instead of just watering them like normal plants. She said orchids are temperamental and don’t like to be flooded with water. They like gradual intakes of the liquid and the ice cubes would melt at a slower rate as to not saturate the soil all at once.

She always had her orchids inside by a window because she said they wanted to be near the sun, but couldn’t be subjected to the constantly changing whether that Pennsylvania so often experiences

I always wondered why orchids were her favorite plants. They seemed like too much work and work that, in the end, might have not even paid off.

Looking back, I realized that Anna was definitely never one to give up. She fought lung cancer for years and even beat it once. She would work tirelessly and still make time for her husband and boys to ensure their needs were satisfied and always came before her own.

A lot like love itself, orchids don’t always cooperate. They need just the right about of care and in ways that no other plants can relate to. Orchids are different than most, which requires extra attention and a lot of patience. And sometimes, all of that time and attention may still not lead to any success in the end.

You can’t be overbearing in love. Love is something that needs to progress over time, slowly seeping into to bond that is formed gradually.

Taking the risk on raising an orchid is a lot like taking the risk on love.

Will it work out? Who knows. Does it require a special kind of care? Of course. No two loves are ever the same. They are all unique in their own way, and require a lot of patience, understanding and persistence. You can’t really give up on love, because if you do, it’s bound to die.

And what makes love so beautiful? The effort put forth to keep it alive.

So now I can’t walk through the garden section of Lowe’s without thinking about Anna and her orchids. And as for love, I’m still working on loving everyone as best I can. I think that’s why I try so hard to keep all my plants alive.

Danielle Puleo is a staff writer for The Coastland Times. Reach her at danielle.puleo@thecoastladntimes.com.

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