A smell, a flower, a colour. It is many things. It is by no means anything truly significant. It might as well be a weed, or just another colour on the wheel.
To me, it is you.
It is the colour of your scarf, as it ruffles in the biting winter gales. It is a soft colour, while your rosy cheeks are aflame, and snowflakes tangle in your pale hair.
It is how you smell when we embrace. When your arms pull me in tight, you feel so small. You look vulnerable, but your strength goes beyond words. I am safe in your arms, and you are safe in mine. Your heart beats softly, and it is my lullaby as we fall asleep together for the upteenth time.
It is when we were children and ran in the fields. It is when you tripped and fell into your mother’s garden, and absolutely totalled the poor purple plant. You tried to salvage it, but enough tears ran down your cheeks to water the whole garden, with no avail. When my mother inevitably found out, your tears did not stop until her cordial smile reassured you, followed by a gregarious hug from myself.
It was when we kissed for the first time. We were but children experiencing the world, and when other children tell you to kiss your best friend so they can get a laugh, it’s hard not to. It was brief. My lips found their way to yours, and the crowd of twelve-year-olds cheered in unison. The night went on, but the taste of your lips, the smell of your hair, the feeling of lavender was everywhere. It was where your fingers had skimmed my hand ever so gently, it was the delicate, surprised smirk after we pulled apart.
It was when you pressed your tear-stained face into the crook of my neck and your body wracked with sobs. It was when you couldn’t stop shakily crying out their name. It was when your heart broke for the first time. It was when it broke for the second, and the third, and countless times after. It was when each time you fell into my arms, knowing that I would always catch you, and never let you go.
It was when your lips found another’s, and you danced in a crowded room full of teenagers. It is your last dance of high school, and I am not beside you, though my eyes cannot be pried away from your mesmerizing figure. It is the colour of your dress, as you spin on the dance floor, and everyone makes way for you. You are not mine. Not in the slightest.
The world is yours, and you don’t hesitate to take it head on.
You leave my life, and I almost forget about you. But when someone has meant so much to you, can you ever truly forget them? Can you ever forget someone you still love?
Could I ever forget the feeling of lavender?
When I see you again, you are no longer lavender. You are not the soft, warm hue, or the pleasant scent of your mother’s garden. You are not the first person who I kissed all those years ago, who had the whole cosmos in your eyes.
You are jagged, and wild. Your pale hair is no longer so carefully pulled back. It is wild, and full of colours, and you have abandoned the pastel which has always been so you, for the cold, inky darkness of black. It is like you are a shadow, yet all eyes are drawn to you. You are the stars, and if that is true, I must be the sky. I am the blank space which will always be there. When stars crash and burn, and finally fail, the sky will never leave, for it can do nothing more than watch.
And when I see you again, all harsh, bright colours, you are crashing. For the stars seem to have yielded for a supernova.
You knock on my door, something so few have done. I open it, and for a second I am afraid that I have lost you forever. The second is over, and you fall into my arms, your tears seeping into the material of my shirt.
You no longer smell like lavender.
You smell like cologne, choking smoke, and things I cannot name, or I don’t think I could ever associate with you and still think of that soft lavender.
You spend the night in my arms, and I ponder the thought that you perhaps haven’t changed so much as you seem. As I feel myself slipping away into the night, I feel something soft on my lips. I am too far gone to realize anything, and too tired to remember the rest.
The next morning, you are gone, nothing but a small bouquet, no, not nearly a bouquet, simply three strands of lavender in your wake. The lavender is already beginning to fade away, but I examine it through blurry, sleep-deprived eyes, and with shaky hands. I find myself gripping them tightly, and holding back tears, wishing that you would come back to me.
Life goes on. At least, for some of us.
I get the call from a friend of a friend while doing something so routine as putting away the dishes. I feel the plates in my hand fall and shatter, the debris splayed across my kitchen floor. Horror and disbelief shake my whole being, and I collapse. However, I do not fall apart. I am not as fragile as the ceramic dross that surrounds me, and slices my hands. I have long since forgotten about that friend of a friend on the phone.
I make myself dinner, I respond to emails from my job, and I go to sleep. In all senses, it is by no means anything truly significant.
I wake up the next morning, and I open an old book I had long since put away to collect dust. It is us. It is smiles, it is laughter, it is our childhoods, it is our aspirations for the future, and it is lavender.
When I attend your funeral, I am there in half an hour. The service is in our hometown, where just a few blocks down we had tumbled into sweet-smelling flowers, and where I had fallen in love with my best friend.
You are not lavender. You are pale, and look far too delicate. For some godless reason, they had suited you in red, and your garish lipstick looks like bloodstains. You look like a rose. You are perfect, and cold, so so cold. I don’t need to feel you to know.
This is not who you are. You are not perfect. You are nowhere near perfect. You broke, and you crashed and you fell. Your hair was always a mess in the mornings, and if you got close enough, you could see delicate freckles scattered across your milky skin.
They had tried to hide it, but I could see the marks on your arm where the world proved too much for the stars. I don’t blame you – could never blame you – I don’t blame you for putting something so dangerous inside yourself just for the thrill; I blame myself for never pressing my lips on your own. I blame myself for not being there to push the needles away. I blame myself for not letting myself love you.
The ceremony is quiet, save for the stifled sobs of family members. It is dull. It is not like you. You are not red, but you are also not plain.
It ends quickly, and I am numb. Your mother is pulled into a tight embrace by your father. Tears streak her face, and her incoherent murmurs are muffled by the embrace. No one can make out the words, but we all know the meaning. She was so young. Why did she deserve to die? Your father’s eyes are squeezed shut as he runs his shaky hand through his wife’s hair; his voice chokes as he attempts to offer an “it’s okay,” as though anything was really okay.
Eventually, everyone had filtered out of the cemetery. Your coffin is closed forever, and six feet under, yet no amount of soil piled on top of you could make me forget the feeling of lavender.
Three months have passed now.
Life is calm. I find myself waking up in the middle of the night, swearing that I can smell the soft scent of lavender. My eyes are trained just around the corner, because I swear I just saw that cool purple scarf flutter past–
The lavender in your mother’s garden is untamed, but it has not died out yet.
Today, I go visit you.
It is spring, and the lush shrubbery that decorates the rows of stones which hold so much meaning makes this place of death seem so lively. I almost find myself lost, but my feet take me where I need to be.
Your grave is not lavender. It is cold and unforgiving.
I kneel down, but end up sitting and crossing my legs like an elementary schooler. I close my eyes, and place a small pot of soil in front of the stone that represents your life. I open my eyes, and the smell of lavender tickles my nose. I feel the tears I had long since buried tugging at me.
“Sometimes love means swallowing everything and sometimes love means forgetting and sometimes love means letting old wounds heal and sometimes love means sleeping in and sometimes love is counting the syllables of their names and comparing it to your heartbeat.
“Sometimes love means becoming better.
“And I so, so wanted to be better.”