It’s supposed to be spring here in New York but winter didn’t get the memo. There’s been a weird tug-o-war going on between the snow and the sun. On March 8th my trees looked like this:
Snow covering everything is lovely to look at. The world gets quiet and almost cozy while it’s falling even though it’s cold. This time of year some of the charm has worn off and this lovely sight wasn’t very welcome. Within two days almost all of the twelve inches that fell were melted away. Then it snowed again. Then that melted. Then it snowed but only on the grass because the pavement was too warm. That snow is gone now too. As I write this it’s sunny, breezy and warm but the forecast is for snow flurries in the morning. :::sigh:::
But the motherwort is poking her head up and growing in small clumps all over my garden. The magnolia has buds and patches of the grass are greening. I heard birds singing this morning. These are the landmark things I look for each year. They are the signs of life among the gray, muddy, end-of-winter landscape that let me know the sun is coming back. The heavy coats can go back into the closet and I can open the windows. It’s reassuring and in a way there is a relieved feeling. I suspect it’s some primal part of us that feels like we have survived another winter.
Last year, the night before Mom’s birthday, her best friend, Joanne, died. Mom was devastated. They met when they were fourteen and had been best friends ever since. For nearly sixty years they were there for each other. She was part of my life from the first day and it was like losing a beloved aunt. For Mom it was like losing a sister. Eight months later my dad died. We all kind of went into hermit mode. That’s easy to do in winter. It’s too cold out so you stay in, bundle up, drink tea, eat cookies, sleep, cry and watch old movies. Somewhere along the way Mom’s birthday this year became one of those landmark things. It was bittersweet as you can imagine.
My sister and I took her out for afternoon tea the day before her birthday. We made it through lunch without a single tear. I was surprised by that. Joanne would have enjoyed this tea room and that thought was on all our minds. We actually laughed a few times and talked about things that would have been too hard just a few months ago. Mom spent the night with me so she wouldn’t have to wake up alone on her birthday. I made her my version of the big breakfast that Dad always made for her and we had a nice but subdued birthday morning together. She left after church to spend the day and night with her sisters down in the city. We survived.
I realized this morning that something has shifted. It’s one of the little adjustments you make in grief; it’s a step toward being OK. There is no clearly defined turning point or deadline. There are gradual changes that happen little by little. It snows then it’s sunny. I cry then I laugh and Life goes on.