My Story: Sunflowers


On March 13, 2020, I was 13 years old.

My birthday was a little less than a month away and I remember people telling me quarantine would be over by then. We would only have two weeks off, spring break and then we would return to school. That was 22 months ago and we’re still in quarantine.

Sometime in April 2020, I started asynchronous online school and joined a gardening class. In my backyard, tucked into my mom’s elaborate garden with growing flowers and bushes, I had my own little plot. I decided to plant a sunflower and some peas and beans into the plot and I thought, “When this grows, the quarantine will be over.” I could have grown so many more sunflowers if I had known.

In late April, I heard the news that the governor was canceling all in-person school until the end of the school year. That seemed so very far off. That was when I knew that the end of quarantine wouldn’t end with the life of that sunflower.

The flower grew, left its small place in the earth, reached towards the sky, and then its bright yellow petals turned brown and the seeds inside turned brittle and finally, it fell over. The quarantine wasn’t over.

I watched as the other plants slowly began to die as well, leaving nothing but dry, brown husks in remembrance.

What I had hoped to be a three-week break from school had turned into the entire life span of several plants. I dug up the plants and threw them back into nature to decompose. Quarantine had seemed to crawl along at first, but somewhere along the way I must have grown used to it because soon enough, all the plants in my mom’s garden began to die. Winter had arrived.

The flowers and trees lost their color and were replaced by a white flurry of snow. The March 2020 version of me would have hoped that the pandemic would end by the last snowflake, but now I knew the end of quarantine was still far off.

Finally, whether it was because we hoped the pandemic would end soon or because we thought the pandemic wouldn’t end soon, my family traveled to Arizona to visit my grandfather — we were staying there for a month, though still in online school. The four weeks turned into a blur and soon enough we began our trip back to Michigan. At the end of our trip, we were greeted with the one-year anniversary of quarantine.

What was supposed to be three weeks away from school had turned into a year; an uneventful three weeks at home turned into a trip across the country; what was supposed to be only one sunflower had turned into many.