Grief remains my shadowy companion, sometimes storming my boundaries and overwhelming my body, but more often traipsing behind at a respectful distance. Nevertheless, color is returning to my world. Like spring foliage that begins subtly and then suddenly bursts, I’ve been surprised by joy several times this past week. Here’s what’s happening in my yard and in my heart:
- I saw the first hummingbird of the season at my feeder, a lovely iridescent male still slender from his migration and very hungry.
- A pair of cardinals is nesting in a tree across from my kitchen window and I’ve been a witness to their morning and evening ablutions at my birdbath. They take turns, one keeps watch while the other splashes with abandon.
- Sitting on the porch, I was mesmerized by sweet birdsong that I first thought was one of my favorite neighborhood songsters, the Carolina Wren, but when the tiny guy appeared he had on a bright red cap – a Ruby Crowned Kinglet! I have a soft spot in my heart for Kinglets because I once found one that had been stunned, and I cradled the delicate beauty in my hands for several minutes before he took off. Thirty plus years later, I still treasure that sacred moment.
- BATS! The first sighting of these angular acrobats is always big for me. As I sat by my fire pit sipping Carbernet and attempting to read in the deepening dusk, I heard them before I saw them. Two bats were arguing about territory, swooping around and chittering and careening into each other. Quite the power struggle!
- While the bats argued, I saw a dark shape wobbling along a high branch of my neighbor’s willow oak and then slip-sliding down to the ground. After a few minutes, I heard something not very graceful rustling in the bushes and out popped a big, fat opossum. He waddled towards me as I fingered my fire-poking stick and pondered its very sharp teeth. Fortunately, he was suspicious of a canvas bag of firewood and took a detour around me. No defense was necessary on either of our parts.
On Easter Sunday, everyone in my church brought home a chrysalis in a little plastic cup. Lots of the pupae were wiggling, but mine didn’t move all week. I was pretty sure it was a dud and then yesterday – a butterfly! It might be a Baltimore Checkerspot, but I’m no lepidopterist. (Isn’t that the *best* word?) We had a minor crisis when it got stuck to a banana slice, so we’re not trying that again. It’s now moved to a bigger home, and I’ve given it an apple slice and dropped in some lilac blossoms.
Speaking of lilacs – they are blooming and their sweet scent fills my garden. Even though they always bring on a slight melancholy because they were in bloom when my father died in 1975, how can you not smile at a blooming lilac bush? They are just friendly, homey spirits. My grandmother told my mother who told me that having a lilac by your front door is good luck – all three of us always chose homes so graced.
People tell me I’m smiling more, and I actually wrote a blog post about laughter last week.
As I said, grief still shadows me. In fact, the last couple of weeks have been some of the worst since my brother passed away four months ago. My birthday? Don’t even ask. Worst ever.
Making oatmeal raisin cookies for the church bake sale brought on tears because I should have been baking extra for Biff. Buying bread at a farmer’s market was touch-and-go because he loved bread and I liked surprising him with exotic loaves. More than once, a simple trip to the grocery store has been a struggle.
I’ve been indecisive, unfocused, and scattered. I’ve had periods of anxiety and even extreme grumpiness, which is rare for me, thankfully. I’ve been very clumsy, which is not at all rare for me, unfortunately.
All the grief “symptoms” are still hovering. I can’t pretend all is rosy. Still, since a number of people have said that they pass my blogs on to grieving friends who find them helpful, I thought I’d let fellow grievers know that the colors do return. The birds will sing and the flowers will bloom and the butterflies will hatch, and:
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
Ancient Christian Mystic Julian of Norwich