AS THE LANDSCAPE greens and trees bloom all around, the contrast between rebirth and remembrance become more vivid.
Last Sunday, I held my tiny new niece and didn’t want to let go. I love new life, its fragility and utter drive. Pure potential.
And though the experience of loving on 2-week-old Lucinda is such joy, I notice a touch of self-indulgent anguish still buried inside me from the tumultuous days when Raphael first came. As I cuddle the new baby, I jealously steal the moment I had been robbed of when I couldn’t even hold my newborn son at first. That was the beginning of overwhelm and stress, which, although changed, has never fully relented.
I know we lingered too long visiting tired new parents, and it led to my nephew, Liam, being late for his nap, but I left Greg’s brother’s family in a high and filled with love for them.
Later that day, I met with Holly, sister of my very close friend who perished two and a half years ago from cancer. We got together to celebrate what would have been Krista’s birthday.
I miss talking to Krista every other day. I miss having her to rely on. I miss making her laugh.
It was beautiful out Sunday as Holly, her boyfriend, Rob, and I visited the site where we will soon place a memorial bench for Krista. We strolled around the CU-Boulder campus and took in the lilacs and trees in full blossom and enjoyed the freshness of a chilly April day in Colorado.
We brought our picnic indoors.
I realize that the pain of loss is not as raw as it once was.
I’ve been thinking about how time shifts things. I don’t believe it necessarily heals all but it brings new perspective, and life’s new pleasures and pain supplant old ones.
Suddenly, my youngest is walking! He is stringing together ASL signs, speaking clear words, messily spooning a few ounces of puree on his own, and managing various textures of food with increased oral motor control and a more coordinated swallow. He even started peeing in the potty, which shocks my friends whose grade-schoolers with Down syndrome are still in diapers.
My poor left shoulder and back have been in real pain since I’ve been carrying my boy around for years, but today, he is trying to run to catch his brother. I can finally put a plate of tiny bites of soft foods in front of my child and step away for more than half a second to grab a glass of water. I no longer spoon feed every bite of Stage 2 baby food.
We are both becoming free.
Of course, I’m still overloaded to extremes and ridiculously behind in my things to do, but I think my recent liberty, both physically and emotionally, means I have space for more.
A sweet mama I know brought my family dinner a couple of years ago when we first got home from the NICU with Raphael, and she gave me a gorgeous orchid plant. Its petals promptly disappeared and the leaves fell over.
I was simply in constant triage mode, and the care and watering of a plant was beyond me. Yet I never threw what remained of the plant away. It was shrunken and sad but still alive. I guess I held hope that one day I’d be able to tend it (as well as tend to other lost aspects of my life).
In the middle of this past winter, Elijah pointed to the ignored plant and asked, “What are these little grape things on it?” I immediately reached out to stop him from picking them off. The plant was budding.
I started giving it loving kindness and water. I bought plant tape and propped up the stem with a stake and added dirt. The first flower bloomed.
And then over the course of weeks, another blossom appeared, and then another.
Five healthy gorgeous flowers now bring me joy in my kitchen.
Perhaps the orchid’s metamorphosis is a metaphor, a reminder of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come as Raphael’s third birthday nears.
He is blooming in so many ways. I’d like to believe so am I.
I like to think my relationships with friends have just been dormant, like the plant was. I’d like to think those friendships, and so many other things left on a figurative shelf, are patiently waiting, and some day, there might be time for them to bloom again, too.