They arrived yesterday, unexpected, wrapped in brown paper. Harbored within, they waited.
I put them in a vase, then went on to finish out the day I’d been dreading — the first-year anniversary of my father’s passing.
It had begun with sunshine and breakfast with a friend, then a card from my husband, “Thinking of you,” which I opened just before he left town. But I started to retreat soon after he pulled away, and found myself wanting to be still, to just be alone in my room. I crossed off some plans I’d had on my “to-do” list and quieted myself, while the oldest kids carried on with their day, and the youngest two hovered near me.
I was still in this state when the doorbell rang, and the purple tulip buds were placed in my hands by the thoughtful friend who always seems to know. But I’ve never been accomplished at receiving gifts. Did I seem ungracious? I take things into myself first, slowly absorb, and it’s often later, when I’m in a quiet spot, that gratitude flows.
By evening, signs came that they were working on opening now that they’d found light. I could feel myself come back to life as they did.
I pushed through, mingling with my little guys, making them cocoa and marshmallows, eating blueberry muffins together. Phone calls and some sweet email and Facebook messages came too, bringing more life and love and some amount of peace. Finally, one last email from one of my dearest friends, a book, a warm body in the form of a daughter next to me. This is how I ended the day processing all over again the day one year before when my father’s spirit leaped from his body and moved on to where it was meant to go all along, leaving those who loved him with an empty space that we knew we’d have to work on filling.
Why this return to remember? What is it with us humans that we’re wired to return to loss to move through it all over again? I can’t say, and yet I know it happens and that it’s important.
And what’s more, we can’t do it alone. As much as we may want to curl up into quietness, it’s things like the card, the words, the unexpected purple tulips, and the kitties who want to investigate them, and the sun coming through, that do the healing work, despite our own efforts.
It happens by God’s grace, through others’ hearts, and it’s what brings us to the day after, to knowing we’ve made it, and then some.
Thank you, God, for the chance to remember without being pulled into the abyss. And thank you for the day after – a new day.