Lingering fatigue from last years surgeries, the holidays, two very draining colds, keeping up with work in the studio and at the office plus just the daily grind in general has had me greatly behind in just about everything. Seriously, I am not kidding. I still have a basket of Christmas tablecloths and napkins that need to be treated and soaked in the laundry. I’ve missed work and pay and a lot of things lately due to flare-ups and I have had my bad days for sure. Fighting a deep sadness that never seems to quite let up enough and yet at the same time embracing life and feeling so lucky to be alive and be with the ones I love can at times be mentally draining. To look at my husband and feel so lucky to live in his kind of love, to be able to love him and greet each day with gratitude is a gift we never waste though.
I want to talk about spring and what it means to me-or at least that is how it started out about a month ago. Then my step mom, a talented and gifted writer, sent me her latest blog piece to my husband and I asking our permission to publish it. And as I sat reading it, tears streaming down my face, I felt so loved. She somehow managed to beautifully capture our lives in a way even though we just want to live and make the very best of this life regardless of our circumstances. Plus I often want people to know that really, I am not feeling sorry for myself. I am just trying to share and reach out to those who might find understanding and comfort from what I write that might reflect that of their own lives, like dealing with an autoimmune disease. In just a few elegant paragraphs she did this because she had been pondering the meaning of the word “reconstruction”. This she did regarding my second phase of breast cancer reconstructive surgery last year. The medical community I feel is relieved to call it this as opposed to “double mastectomy with reconstruction” which is really what it is. The medical bills even state “breast reconstruction surgery” as if I went in for a boob job for heavens sake. I find it insulting in a way the same as I did when an obviously thoughtless emergency room doctor had the audacity to refer to my daughter’s stillborn birth as a miscarriage seven years ago. In all fairness, I feel the medical community will do this sometimes to take the real meaning from something as if to soften the blow. But trust me, that is another story for another blog.
Spring. Our dogwood tree lined street is working magic right now as the trees puff each day with beautiful little white blossoms and the breeze carries the white petals like snow to the ground. It is a gift from nature like no other. Last year, the climate was so confused and so hot early on, that the trees never even blossomed and went straight to green which given my situation last year was disappointing but also somewhat symbolic. All around the grass is turning greener, the flowers are blooming and our courtyard is teaming with honeybees and humming birds. Baby lizards tease my little dog in his path and baby birds are discovering song. This season is, as for a lot of people, a sort of a symbol of renewal. There are a lot of “re” words you could use to describe it. Revival. Rejuvenation. Restoration. Or perhaps...reconstruction.
Plants and trees seem to “reconstruct” themselves each year. And sometimes not always in the same way even though we have our habit of expectation. I told my husband in the garden the other day “That hydrangea plant...that damn thing grows mostly green leaves in the back of the air conditioner unit now with a few puffs of flowers each year. It is not really the same anymore. Mostly a big, green bush and only a few colorful sprouts way at the bottom where you cannot see them.” I want to take this thing out and “reconstruct” this part of the garden with a small tree and new hydrangeas. My husband does not argue, but he does make a plea for the poor confused hydrangea plant to either relocate it or let it be and “see what happens.” I digress. “Ok, let it be. But this year if it pulls the same thing..” “Then we will take it out for sure” he says. Poor hydrangea. For whatever reason it has been changing and adapting the best it can. It is not perfect just like myself and all things. But it is still beautiful in it’s own way. Just not in the way it used to be presenting us with beautiful blue pink blooms all over. It one day, for whatever reason decided to migrate behind the AC unit and mostly flower leaves. Beautiful, rich cool green leaves. How could I, of all people, argue with that?
The fact is I wanted to write about how spring is important to me in it’s sense of “renewal” and that although some people do not care about the holidays that pepper it (Passover, Good Friday, Easter Sunday) I have always found that holidays and their meanings aside, it is a celebration of the new season with your family. I have such happy memories of it as a child. The dresses my mother would so lovingly pick out or sew. How I adored Easter egg hunting so very much I begged family all day long to hide them again and again. And watching “The Wizard of Oz” in the evening while eating the ears off my chocolate bunny. Getting to see all my aunts and uncles and cousins. The happy sound of relatives visiting and the heavenly smell of Easter Torte bread, warm from the oven, smothered in butter. All the new baby critters being born, the rainbow of beautiful colorful flowers and hearing the birds sing.
And that sadness I fight…it comes with a heavy wave because it is not the same anymore for me. On Sunday I opened up an ad in the paper and saw the most beautiful little girls dress dawned with pink butterflies. There is no doubt I would have wanted that for my little Sarah. I flip through all the ads for beautiful Easter baskets and candy and pretty things and a lump comes into my throat because she would have been around seven years old this early May. She would have been at a wonderful age and we would have been really getting to know her as a little person and the joy I would have felt making her “spring” fun and magical leaves me so empty. My love for her is so deep and so rock solid that sometimes I cannot bare it. I decide it is torture, and dump all the tempting Easter ads into the recycle. Mine will come in the form of flowers and decorations for her grave marker. She is with me at all times, not necessarily at Precious Love, the site at which her body rests. But people sometimes do not understand it is comforting to a parent, especially for a mother, to visit and decorate the site of their lost child. That is all they have, really. They see something that reminds them of their child and that’s the only place they feel they can share it. We had so much to share; so much to give. When I was little my mother took those large plastic eggs pantyhose used to come in and while I took my naps each afternoon she so beautifully painted each one with flowers and polka dots and stripes. She then filled them with candy and toys and money for Easter morning. I never forgot those. I wish I still had one. I played with them for years. My mother is a gifted and loving artist. The things she made me on our budget over the years to keep me entertained I guess is a big chunk missing in my life because I wanted to pass this on to my daughter. To show her the wonders of creativity and the beauty of our world as my Mom and her mother did for her. How she always pointed out things in nature to me-animals, flowers that were blooming, how a plant looked like a grumpy man. My Mom made my life beautiful. She still does.
I missed Easter last year. I came home from the hospital and it passed peacefully through our house without much sentiment, which I admit, made it easier. That and pain meds. This year I will be spending Easter with my Mom, something of which I am so grateful for. It will be quiet and a bit sad for me-not like Thanksgiving where we were blessed at the last minute with family and friends and their amazing children which just brought a piece of the past my heart had been missing for so long back and had been the medicine my mind needed. Gone are the springs of my youth and my past. But my Mom and I are close and I know with her, we will welcome another year of renewal. We will praise spring. Maybe even rejuvenation for another year to conquer. I will miss my husband terribly. He will be visiting his aging Uncle in Nevada with my brother-in-law, which is a trip long overdue and turned out to be the only weekend schedules with work would accommodate. Hopefully this is his form of “re” for another year. To see his Uncle. To get away. I somewhat envy this. So, I close with the link from my stepmother, Betsy, in tribute to my husband and I today and all of those who have found themselves these past years in extraordinary circumstances especially with the ones they love and their health. It only takes a moment to read, and I could not express myself the way she so perfectly does here: