she showed up… we followed orders

I sit and write as my kids play downstairs.

That’s bologney. They’re actually on screens watching some movie. Which is a bit of an anomaly mid-day but Mama needs what Mama needs and right now it’s time to write.

And what happened just before this, well, that’s a bit of an anomaly too.

We planted flowers. Just beside the brick front porch. One for each kiddo. And you looking at the pic above can probably tell me what the flowers are.

But I know that each one took “partial to full shade” and that’s what I go for in our yard of humongous leafed out hardwoods.

Oh, and 8 year old Ruthie was adamant that we get mulch with the little trio of flowers.
So we did.

When we got home, she wanted to put her plant in the backyard instead of the front. “Ru, your flower will do better up here with the others,” I said.

She paused, steeled herself and caught my eye, “But his lily is all alone!”

I suddenly got it.

I had missed why she wanted her flower back there.
I had missed why she wanted mulch.

But now I got it.

For the back garden around Thomas’ lily.

Which we planted three years ago, about a week after his service.

A dear – dearest – heart friend came over that morning.
When she popped the back of her SUV, my jaw dropped.
Shovels, pitchforks, bags of soil and mulch piled upward toward the ceiling.

“I didn’t know what you had,” she said with her signature single shoulder shrug and near-imperceptible tilt of the head.

She proceeded to instruct us as any good captain does,
Dig here, soil there, stomp here, mulch there.

And she came with more than her knowledge, more than her gardening tools.

She came with her heart, open to the hard.

The hard of loss and un-takebackable death.

And the healing of togetherness.

Of sacred acts.

Of doing something that marked the here and Now of his death,
linked to then and There of his life.

To laugh and share grief with someone who knew grief was elixir.
That dearest of friends knows her own grief.

Not our’s.
But her’s.
Which after all might as well be our’s.

Not her grief.
Not my grief.
Not your grief.

Our grief.
The grief.

And, true to The Grief, there’s no straight line from before to next.

Because, you see, we planted 3 lilies that day. But today, 3 years later, only 1 lily remains. And I doubt from its position it’s even 1 of the original 3.

Voles apparently love lily bulbs. Squirrels and rabbits supposedly love their flowers.

The survival of those initial plants in their act of healing was challenged from day one.


There’s that other lily now. An off shoot of what we’d planned and initially planted.
That new lily is waiting for care.

And we’re caring for it.

This year we got some squirrel and whatever else repellent that apparently smells like carnivorous animals. (I don’t wish for gardening advice here but if you must then feel free to send along.)

So I guess that’s a thing to remember.

The initial healing was oh so right for the moment.
And now it’s spread into something new.
As healing tends to do.
And this coming weekend when Ruthie and I get a few more plants to befriend the lily, The Healing will evolve into something else.

The Healing is in the moment. It’s always in the moment.

May you feel that your grief and your healing for the world – and for you – is not alone.
Is never alone.
That it’s spreading,
that it’s evolving.
That it’s challenged but not defeated,
ever finding a way.

With love and faith,

p.s. If you know someone who needs to know they’re not alone in The Grief and The Healing, forward this along. Don’t hesitate, please. We need each other.

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