Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks sing love songs from a nearby tree. We called Grosbeak males “Angel Voice.” I count on their spring arrival, too.
Grey Catbirds feast on orange halves put out to lure Baltimore Orioles. I haven’t seen an Oriole, but Catbirds with their melodious song love oranges, too. My dense Forsythia hedge is their summer condominium beginning in May.
This morning, my local son Anthony and I drove to the Amish Countryside Market and bought flowers and vegetable plants, a spring plant buying ritual at a greenhouse I’d never visited. A black dressed Amish girl smiled shyly as she helped me. A young man grinned in the shade of his wide brimmed straw hat as he watered thirsty plants and answered questions.
“Bronze Fennel? It’s right over here. Marigolds are in the next greenhouse,” he said, walking me part way there. I found plants to eat and others to lure butterflies and bees, plus midnight blue Lobelia, yellow Violas, and coral Begonias for beauty. This afternoon, our watered plants are in the shade at my place, coddled until they acclimate to life outside the greenhouse. Lettuce, arugula, and snow peas already grow in my garden, promising enough to share.
No matter how beautiful the Moon and bird songs, how promising the spring plants, an ache comes when Lupines send up blossoms in the fields and the Bluebird female lays her eggs. Nature and I don’t forget that Vic died during this season of the Green Man, the Celtic God symbolizing rebirth and the green growth of spring.
I think of William Faulkner’s words: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
The next morning, the dogs and I walk to the forest where Vic’s ashes are buried. I kiss the sun warmed stones of the cairn my sons and I built. Trillium and Gaywings bloom around my feet, reminding me I don’t have to grieve alone. There’s no shame in asking for support.
I send my friend Steve a text asking if he’ll walk to Vic’s cairn with me on June 3, Vic’s death date. Steve was with us those last days, fourteen years ago. He was there when I wept non-stop after Vic’s death, apologizing profusely for my tears.
“Your grief gives me permission to feel my grief,” Steve said. I still need to give myself permission, but my salty tears remind me of what I know: “This is the way love feels now.”
Steve responds immediately: “June 3! It’s on my calendar.”
At certain times of the year, do you miss those you love who no longer walk the earth? Do you create rituals to help you through lingering grief? Is it hard for you to ask for help from friends or family? (It’s always hard for me.)
For other posts about our friend Steve whom we met many years ago when he was in college and our son Anthony was a babe in my arms see A Word that Changes Everything. For a post about interviewing Vic (at Steve’s house) for Storycorps, see “Part of Living is Dying.”