Grieving Through The Seasons

rainIt’s a chilly, rainy day. It’s the best kind of rain. It’s coming straight down, so I can sit on the porch and not get wet.  

I’ve always liked the rain, but I have a new appreciation of it since Samuel died. Rainy days are gloomy, and I feel less at odds with the world and everyone else. Right now is a steady downpour that hides the distant trees in fog, and drowns out other sounds with the percussion of raindrops on the roof. A rainy sky is a mournful sky. It matches my mood and cries with me. It masks the chill in my soul, just a little. I seek out small comforts, like wool socks and a warm mug of coffee, just to hold in my hands.  

For the first few months after Samuel died, I couldn’t tolerate bright days. In a weird, detached way, I was thankful the accident happened at the beginning of winter. It provided me with sharp wind and leaf-less trees stretching their dark arms to a cheerless sun. I dreaded the arrival of spring. 

As the days warmed and green made a reappearance, I was drawn into the rebirth in spite of my sorrow. I found escape from anxiety by pulling weeds, planting bushes, moving flowers from one spot to another. It was good to have dirt on my hands. I found peace in the cycle of life and death in the natural world that continued oblivious to my personal tragedy. I thought of seeds and trees through the millennia, sprouting, growing, dying, alongside generations of people. People that lived and died, celebrated and grieved, and are long forgotten. I felt my small place in time and in the universe. It reminded me that death is not shocking, but an inescapable part of living. To everything there is a season, a time to be born and a time to die.

Summery activities were intolerable to me. I was overwhelmed by happy people, carefree at picnics and afternoons at the pool. But the long, hot days were a solace. I sat on the porch watching the world sag wearily under the heat. Frogs serenaded the warm nights, and cicadas droned their songs during the day. Cicadas that shed their skins to have wings for a few weeks before they die. How different it must be to discover flight and sky after years in the dark, cool earth. Their freedom is short. They fly, sing, lay eggs, and are gone.

And now it’s the end of fall, the in-between time, sinking inevitably back to winter. The willow has yellowed and dropped it’s leaves. It stands like a pencil sketch in the front yard. The deer look healthy and strong, but it won’t be long before their ribs show and they resort to eating the “deer-proof” things I foolishly plant year after year. I wonder how the chickadee doesn’t freeze, how anything outside survives when the woods are frigid and still. I wish humans could hibernate through the winter seasons of life. I wish I could curl up deep underground, where I’m protected from the cold, and sleep until my heart finds spring. 

I found a hellebore on sale and planted it on the anniversary of Samuel’s death. A Lenten Rose. It’s a tough flower. It likes to bloom in February, in the snow. I planted it as a show of faith that beauty can grow in impossible places, when the ground is iced over and everything looks dead. I might need the reminder. 

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