Spring Is The New Black

My husband's mother, Marilyn, passed away last week on the vernal equinox which was fitting since spring was her favorite season of the year. During the course of preparing Marilyn's funeral the family shared stories about how much she loved spring and how she was always gardening. In fact, some of our fondest memories are about her garden and the plants she loved so much.
One of the first plants to sprout every year in our garden are the pink cleomes she gave us. They persistently pop up in our garden, along our sidewalk and even in the cracks in our driveway. The one plant she gave us that first summer in our house has spawned generations of pink flowers that bloom not only in our garden but everywhere the previous fall winds have carried the seeds. This year when these cleomes come up they will be even more precious to us now that she is gone.

Things were in full bloom in North Carolina; the cherry trees with their pink and white blossoms bursting color, purple bushes rising out of the green along the highway and dogwoods showy in their finest white.

I got to thinking how meanings change and how we assign our sense memories to react with different neurons as time moves on. My mother's passing in the spring of 2004 was expected. She had been severely ill for several months and it was no surprise to us when she moved on but spring became a reminder of her death and I lost any joy I usually felt when blossoms started to open in our gardens.

Marilyn, on the other hand, was more of a surprise and we didn't have the time to prepare. But it was interesting how spring followed us, paving the way for her passing. We left New Jersey with shrubs and trees showing some tightly closed buds but nothing in bloom. During our ten or so hour drive to North Carolina, the closer we got to our destination the more the terrain around us became alive. It was as though spring was blooming before our eyes.

The grounds around the hospital were fragrant with flowers and tiny inchworms cascading down from the branches that clung to our clothes, bright green against our sleeves. The weather grew warm, hot even for this time of year.  The scents of flowers and the blooming of everything around us became a comfort as we left the hospital after she passed. Out of the center of our mourning nature itself reminded us that after every sorrowful thing comes rebirth. But it was how Marilyn felt about this time of year that really created a comfort for us.

Nature has a way of renewing us even when we fight the desire to move on. So as we stood graveside dressed in black, nature bloomed with color and birds chirped with the arrival of spring. It was a fitting goodbye in spite of our grief and because it was her favorite season everything seemed to be in bloom just for her as if nature woke up to usher her to the other side.