I can still see the bright yellow petals, burning their image into my head. The green stalks that tower down on me continue to cast a shadow in my conscience. Sunflowers forever bloom in the depths of my soul.
I watch a smaller me running through fields of barren sunflowers, with the sunflower seeds freshly harvested. My younger brother takes a stick to a stalk and petals fly everywhere. We laugh as we pretend to fight epic battles against dragons and ninjas. Our imaginations run wild.
I am at the movies with friends by seven. My cell phone rings, startling those around me. It s my mother. She tells me to come outside. The events to play hit like an ambulance driver hits the gas pedal on route to an emergency. My dad is leaving for Iraq in an hour. We have to say goodbye. He promises he will be home soon. He wants me to take care of my mother.
I don’t sleep. Instead I lay awake in bed. The ceiling has a conversation with my eyes, bouncing ideas around about death and war and heaven. How do these subjects apply to my life? The next morning I wake up early. I take the sticks I used the day before and walk to the sunflower fields. Instinctively, my hand swings the stick at anything it can make contact with. Sunflower petals burst into the air like fireworks. Leaves fall with stalks and in my blind furry I feel tears running down my cheeks. From nowhere arms wrap around me, and pick me off the ground. My neighbor Michael carries me out of sunflower fields and into the dark.
I go from innocent child to aware young adult. Dragons and ninjas pose no threat. Instead I fear guns and bombs. I crave knowledge and understanding of this unknown planet that I have been reborn into.
With eyes so aware I will seek out opportunities to grow in my existence just as I did in the sunflower fields. As I look towards college I know I will bring my appetite for knowledge. I want to explore the world further and connect others to it through journalism. By being renewed in such a way I learned that I want to spread democracy just as my father did. I will fight this fight without guns or bombs. My tools will be a pencil, words and truth. I will bring this flame of determination to college. Meanwhile, ripples of sunflower fields stretch infinitely through my life and into the universe.