Seconds before pen hit page… well no, that’s not right. While writing the first sentence… no, that’s not right either. In writing the date at the top of my page, November 3, 2012, I felt the remembrance: not long before Trudy dies, or rather, I sense in this time the echo of her passing. A cavernous queasiness takes hold of my mind and my heart and my soul.
If I must remember an anniversary this morning I prefer to think of the spring tulips planted for Trudy by Grandpa Wyatt at the little house; beneath the small crabapple tree in the center of the drive, just east of the sidewalk that lead to the front door. I wasn’t born when they were first planted, but I was told about them in great detail and with greater affection as with each year fewer and fewer flowers found their way through the Midwest winters. So I don’t know for sure what date they were planted; nearer her birth or when she turned three? All the family that would remember this are as gone as the tulips themselves. But as mysterious as tulips bulbs are, they would have been planted during this time of year – the fall; before the first frost, before the deep freeze of winter, before the spring.
The story goes that Grandpa was smitten with Trudy; her golden locks, her shy inquisitive nature, and as first born grandchild of my generation of Wyatts. I wish I could hear my mother’s voice telling us one more time how he would walk across the field to come pick Trudy up for a day of fun. I wish I could see Trudy’s face light up one more time with the memory of those tulips and her Grandfather’s love.
Before my pen hit page this morning I was also thinking of our trip to see Trudy last October. Unbeknownst to us, or was it?, it was the last trip to visit my sister in our ordinary ways – with excited sibling screams of delight of first seeing each other after traveling from Texas, meals and snacks and board games at her table, sorrowful farewells. And I thought this morning how fitting the verse: come before winter and share my hope.
When I remember last fall I think of my sister’s gratefulness for our coming. But I also think of the pain that mostly confined her to her kitchen chair and only one short car trip to Kennekut where we parked and watched the small lake ripple, squawking geese that Mother loved so much and the last of the year’s colorful dancing autumn leaves. In recall of the mood there is also a peripheral understanding of difficult changes to come with the physical struggles Trudy was barely able to restrain from screams. We all knew there were dark fingers taking a hold of Sis; it hurts to think of what she suffered. But with a combined strength of determination, stubbornness, faith and love we three silently choose to squeeze out one more normal trip to the table of family blankets, invisibly secure and warm and worn as only family can.
As I wrote the date today, fear tapped my heart. How bad will the holidays and anniversaries of my going to help her in the hospital and of her death four short weeks later be? I am wrong to fast forward or to borrow the sorrows of the past or the future; they rob the present where hope lives. But knowing wrong has never corrected the tilted feelings of loss.
What has righted the deck is coming to the certainty of eternal love. I learned this only because of witnessing my sister slip from this world to the next, carrying my love with her and leaving her delicate fingerprints of love on my heart.
Come before winter and share my hope. Come swiftly Lord; come brightly spring in the anniversaries of despair and autumn remembrance of Grace in all seasons. Bring to mind, heart and soul the companions of sorrow and hope – of planting tulips in the winter with promise of new, bright yellow and incredibly bold blooms in the Spring.
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