My father’s favorite flowers were tulips. Every year he would dig up the three tiers of soil in our hillside front yard and plants hundreds of bulbs. His heart would never seem quite so full than when he was working toward that day when his tulip garden was resplendent in yellow and orange and red and white.
He did this into his sixties. He said he loved the colors and that each one reminded him of the warming season. I loved to see my father amonst his tulips. One of the hardest parts of his death was the untended yard the Spring after he was gone, overflowing with ivy and inattention.
I heard from a friend of my late brother’s recently. David and his friend, Zack, were really close growing up. Along with Brian and Nicky, and several others, David had a cadre of buddies with whom he hung out, got into trouble, and, I know, laughed constantly.
These young fellows would find their way around our mountain village in far-northern California on dirt bikes, skis, on foot, and by car, leaving their mark on every corner of this town of 2,400 people.
When David died in 2006, I thought these young people would be lost forever to me. I was saddened by that because it felt as though David’s memory would be diminished by the scattering to the wind of his friends.
Within the last year, I’ve heard from Brian, Nicky, and now Zack. They have sent photos and memories via electronic mail of their time together. They have each expressed a loving memory of my brother that has brought comfort and a sense of envelopment to me as the last remaining member of our four-person core family.
Today, I got a message from Zack informing me that he has a newborn baby. In the same way I felt upon the birth of my first grandchild in 1993, I felt a newness wash over me. It was intimate and poignant. With all the loss I’ve experienced in the last ten years, this moment brought me a sense of joyful future.
I sent my warmest wishes to Zack on his growing family. Part of those wishes, I think, were because he brought me some emotional tulips, like the ones my father grew. He showed me, once again, that Spring was here and new life was repeating its pattern.
It also reminded me of my recent visit to see my cousin, Joe, who was in the hospital with cancer. I had this amazing sense of healing and until today, I wasn’t sure why that was. Above his bed, on the top of his cabinet, was a vase full of white tulips… and hope.
Spring is all around me right now and I am, for the first time in many years, fully aware of its beauty and power. This has to be a good sign; a sign not unlike the first hint of excited green stalk poking through the recently cold soil over a tulip bulb.