Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Random Joy in a Week of Spring

Spring is my favorite season and finding joy is a lot easier as the grass turns green and the trees and flowers bud.

It's a time when things that have seemed dead return to life, and in ways that makes it a hard time because what has been dead in my life won't be coming back to life. Still, Ethan preferred the cold and was never one to get out and enjoy the season, so he wouldn't miss the fact that the seasons are turning.

Last week I found myself humming a song from my middle school days -- "Seasons in the Sun," performed in 1974 by Terry Jacks. "We had joy. We had fun. We had seasons in the sun... Now that the spring is in the air, little children everywhere, when you see them I'll be there." Every turning of the calendar marks a month I don't share with my son, things I cannot tell him, a time when he becomes more a memory and a part of the past, no matter how big he lives in my heart.

His looming birthday has also overshadowed the season. I approach it with a sense of trepidation that probably keeps me from embracing each sunny day as it rolls around. All the same, I found joy in the past week, not in just the changing season but in the individual signs that winter is slipping away.

1. Tilling my garden with my monster tiller in shorts and halter top. It was a glorious afternoon and I followed the tilling with raking and the planting of several early crops.

2. My kennel dogs on a sunny afternoon. I had a lot of little dogs who've spent a lot of time with me this weekend and Sunday afternoon I sat on the ground and let them "waller" me. It was so much fun, I tried for a selfie and was pleased to see what looked like a happy face in the picture.

3. The first tulip of the spring. It blooms between my office and kennel building in a sheltered spot blessed by the morning sun, far ahead of its peers as its pink petals unfurl to the day.

4. The purple hue of redbuds. My Ma Mary (the Ma in my life) always loved redbuds. Years before she died peacefully in her recliner with Pa by her side, I bought her a redbud and planted it in her front yard where she could see it without having to try to find one blooming in the woods. My yard literally swarms with redbuds, natural ones that sprang up and a few I've planted. When I see them I always think of Ma.

5. Leaves on the apple tree I grafted last year. I had never done grafting but decided to try it when I saw a class offered at the Cooperative Extension Service. The Virginia Beauty lived and grew last summer in a pot and has now been transferred into its forever home. Leaves the size of mouse ears are emerging as evidence that it survived the winter and may one day give me crisp, red apples.

6. Rain on Monday. Yes, I'd rather have a sunny day, but rain is good. I planted lettuce, herbs, spinach and radishes last week and the rain will be good for the little seeds in the ground.

7. A shared confidence from a friend. The possibility made my heart sing and made me want to weep happy tears. I'll be praying for it to become a reality and holding the secret like a treasure in my heart to bring me joy with its meaning and potential.

A week of joy and the realization that it seems to get easier, even though when I have a hard day it feels just as hard as any I've had, has pushed me into April and a bit further from despair. Yet, even when this exercise is easier, I never want to take joy for granted because that is one of the illusions that has been shattered by losing my son. Even the things we cling to can suddenly disappear like water through our fingers, so we need to take time to take note of what brings us joy.

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