The white of winter has melted through brown and into the green of spring and summer. Marsh grasses and sedges that border my fence are already more than waist high. Textures and shapes of green transform boxes of dirt into a vegetable garden. Flower beds stretch and reach and bloom. I never grow tired of spring after the dormancy of winter.
It has been a long winter, not because of the weather that dominates so much of Canadian conversations, but because of the continued journey of grief. The milestones we have come to anticipate and celebrate in life feel so very different when death has touched them. A child’s first Christmas or birthday is a far cry from the first Christmas and birthday without his presence. But we made it through both events, albeit from the trenches, armed and readied for ambush, rather than from the flag-flying heights of celebration. Another milestone looms on the horizon. With no counterpart in the living past, it is one that time will continue to mark as years go by but never in celebration – only in remembrance.
Although, I do not want grief to dominate my writing any more than I want it to dominate my life, I will never be able to say that the loss no longer affects me. It is deeply woven into the fabric of who I am – but I am slowly learning how to live life around the edges of the hole that exists where a son once was. I am also recognizing that there is less comfortable space for public grief now; as other people’s lives move on there are greater levels of discomfort in conversations that bring them face-to-face again with our loss. Perhaps discomfort isn’t quite the right word – helplessness is probably more appropriate. I understand that, and it is okay. So I have moved more into the private spaces of grief – quiet moments of reflection, gentle cradling of memories, deep tears of loss, treasured glimpses of grace. Choosing to continue to trust in God’s sovereignty gives purpose to each moment.
So… I move from winter to the vibrancy of spring. A period of rest from the teaching profession is only a couple of weeks away. My garden is thriving with the somewhat balanced doses of warmth and rain – and a sprinkling of deer repellent. The lilies from the funeral that I planted last fall have all returned as treasured memorials. The gently swaying view from my hammock chair is an oasis for my soul. Activities such as running, biking, and traipsing around the marsh remind me of how fulfilling and invigorating life can be. My resolution to “do art” on a weekly basis has reawakened the need to see nuances of shape, line, colour, and shadow – all reflections of a Creator’s touch. I need that same sharpened awareness of His touch in all of life.