You know that feeling…it’s late February and you’re all bundled up in sweaters and coats, scarves, gloves. Driving along, minding your own business, lamenting the bitter cold that never seems to end. It feels as if there will never be another spring. And inevitably, that damn groundhog confirmed it just weeks earlier.
And then, out of the corner of your eye, you see, way off on the horizon, a tiny speck of yellow.
And your heart leaps.
You tell yourself It cannot be so. You keep driving until you’re there, right where the tiny speck was and now your heart double-leaps because IT IS SO. The first daffodil.
In your excitement, you shout to no one in particular, “A daffodil!” And you smile. Unbutton your coat even though it’s still freezing out. Because you’ve seen the first daffodil and you know…the rejuvenation that comes through SPRING…is just around the corner.
Spring, to me, is such a metaphor for life. God in his infinite wisdom gave us just enough of each season to be totally ready for the next when the time comes, and so it is with life. With raising children or marriage or even death.
We think we cannot take one more second of winter, of raw, bare, ugly, real life in all its complexities of grief and sadness, remorse and regret, pain and sorrow. And just when we think we must give up, a daffodil emerges from our frozen heart and somehow we know that we can keep going.
Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. (Didion)
There have been circumstances in the last few weeks that have tugged at my heart and made me question many things. Deaths, illnesses, family relationships. I’ve looked at decisions I made in my youth that turned out to have far-reaching consequences and wondered if those decisions were the right ones.
At the time, I had complete certainty but today, with the clarity of thirty more years of life, I know that there are very few things about which we can ever have complete certainty and deciding to close a door on a familial relationship is one of those. And while you may close a door, somewhere deep inside a tiny piece of you may whisper there is still a possibility of reconciliation.
But once death slams that door, the finality and significance of those old decisions is brought home with a staggering, resounding slam to the heart. And so, while I can’t say that I have regrets, I can’t say that I don’t either.
Grief isn’t always just about a person or the loss of a person. Grief can be about what was, and what wasn’t, and what never can be.
While death has ensured that one door will forever remain closed, the loss itself has opened a different door and through sharing loss and memories—good and bad—I have found peace in another troubled relationship. The past days have dredged up shared pain long buried that only we two can understand and we are healing together which feels good and right.
Death takes away and sometimes, in so doing, it gives back.
…her wounds came from the same source as her power.
Other people’s troubles have tugged at my heart also. One friend’s family has dealt with an unexpected critical childhood illness, uprooting the family and sending a household into chaos. It’s hard not to ask why when these things happen. Anytime a child suffers, it’s beyond our human comprehension to understand.
Other friends are battling cancer, either through treatments currently or recovering from treatments. Vibrant, strong, men whose lives have been forever changed and who now wait every six months with bated breath for the next scan. It’s nerve-racking, terrifying.
And then another friend suffered a loss the magnitude of which no one should have to bear and which none of us will ever understand.
Life is about dreams, and hope, and courage.
The courage to go on, even after those we love have left us.
I don’t have any advice or wisdom. The only thing that’s clear to me is that the way to make it through this life is to believe the daffodil will always appear. That requires an abundance of “faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
I saw now that even the struggles, the hard times when I cursed and moaned and whined, had not been punishment.
God hadn’t been peering down from the heavens saying, Good, let her crawl over broken glass for a bit. That will teach her.
God was saying, Look, she’s learning to love.
And that’s it. Love is really the answer to everything. Love is the one constant. God’s love for us. Ours for Him. Our love for each other, for family and friends.
Meanwhile, these three remain: faith, hope, and love;
and the greatest of these is love.”
We may have differences. We may fight and give way to bitter resentment and anger. We may endure illnesses or tragedies or circumstances we do not believe we can bear. We may suffer sorrow of unimaginable depths. But where there is love, there will always be a daffodil, waiting.
It’s just around the corner.
Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
Danielle Steele, His Bright Light
Melodie Beattie, The Lessons of Love