Spring is a time of year when beauty abounds, especially here in the piedmont region of North Carolina. But I recall one spring when the delicate dogwood scraped against my heart, causing my delicate grief to ignite into anger.
Why were the dogwood, azaleas, and oak trees full of new life when my son was dead?
How could I bask in the lush aromas and vibrant colors when my heart had been ripped from my chest? Why couldn't the God of creation bend down and breathe life into my young Daniel's limbs, into his lungs?
I never got the answers.
Daniel's been gone from this earth for fourteen springs, and each spring brings me back to that first one, just six weeks after his death. Ironically, Daniel died on Groundhog Day, the very day those little critters are watched to see if their shadows are seen, to decide how much more winter is left and when spring will arrive.
Every spring I remember the agony of the first without him. That first one when I wanted to cover my head and eyes and shout, "This is too much life!" I'm grateful for time and for what I have done with the years so that the pain is not as fierce as it once was. Thanks to all the grief work I've done, I can enjoy the profound beauty of spring.
Yet it will never be as it once was. For now, my favorite parts of the season are seeing the purple wisteria hanging like scarves from the limbs of pine trees and the deep purple irises that bloom by my back door. The new leaves on the weeping willow planted in Daniel's memory are also signs I look for. These connect me to not only life, but to grief, loss and death. For none of these blooms last forever; spring must make way for summer and then fall, when leaves wither and die, new ones awaiting birth the following spring.