It rained today. It was chilly and windy and grey, and finally, in the afternoon, the tension broke and the rain fell.
Then the clouds cleared and the world lit up. The mountains were soft white with a new layer of snow against the blue sky. Water droplets sparkled on hyacinth blooms, daffodils waved in the wind.
I thought about my mom, who loved spring. Earlier in the day, I took Kaleb to her house so he could clean her yard as part of the preparations for selling her house. He cleared weeds, trimmed bushes and plants, raked up leaves. It was a mess when he started, clean and tidy when he was done. Her daffodils weren’t blooming yet, or her tulips, but the leaves were out.
I remember this feeling from when my dad died. How, the next spring, the grape hyacinths he had planted still bloomed, even though he wasn’t there.
My mom didn’t stay in that house in Springville, the one where we all grew up. She sold it and moved so she could be closer to me and my sisters, but I’m not sure she ever forgave us for pushing her to move. Now that’s she’s gone and we are finishing cleaning out the house she lived in for such a short time, I find myself filled with regret. Maybe we should’ve just left her in her house in Springville. Where all the memories were, my dad’s rocks and his tulips, his lilac bush and his saw blade nearly swallowed by his honey locust. Where every spring my mom filled containers with flowers. Where things grew. Where we laughed, fought, cried, played, celebrated.
But, here we are in this reality.
I touched the leaves of the tulips. I thought about her planting them, and now she’s gone. She’s gone, but the flowers are still here.
Then I came home to my own house, my yard where every living thing was planted by me. The daffodils I planted when I was pregnant with Haley are still coming up every year, even though she is grown up and in a different state now. The hostas I planted one spring afternoon with Jake’s help the summer he was three, while Nathan napped and Kaleb was still only a wish—they are poking their heads up, too.
I love spring flowers. There might not be anything more joyful than the scent of a hyacinth on the cool air. They are reminders that cold doesn’t last forever, the world cycles, things change, but they also repeat.
Those bulbs I planted could last longer than I do.
And again I am hit with that strange feeling, one I don’t have an exact, single word for. The way that we come into the world, and we do something. Even if it is only loving other people, we do something. We have a work. We plant flowers, we take photographs, we write our memories. We raise children, sometimes, and we make mistakes, even though when they were born we promised them we wouldn’t. We leave scars. Hopefully we leave knowledge, too. And the surety of being loved.
We come, we stay for awhile, we leave. Other things last longer than us: trees, rosebushes, quilts, photographs. Hopefully, though, something of us still remains, in the curve of a cheek or a shade of hair, but also in a way of doing things that our descendents don't even realize was ours and yet they do it anyway.
My mother loved spring flowers; my grandmother loved purple flowers. Maybe one day I will have great-great grandchildren who plant purple hyacinths, windflowers, crocus, just because they love them, not knowing their mother's mother's mother loved them.
(If there are still flowers, and spring, and water, and blue skies in that future.)
Every spring, my flowers bloom the earliest of anyone I know. Every year, when they start blooming, I would tell my mom: the flowers are blooming! Winter will end!
How strange I cannot tell her that this year.
How strange that I am here to see them. That any of us are, really.