It’s spring. The rhododendrons are starting to bloom. The wind is soft. The grass is tall. Along the road, the trilliums are turning from white to pink and lavender, and yellow flowers have blossomed on the Scotch broom. Annie and I can sit on the deck again in the sun instead of hovering around the pellet stove while the rain pours down.
A week ago, I cleaned the winter grunge off a couple of lawn chairs and set them on the deck. Saturday, between chores and church, I sat in one of those chairs with a cool drink. My late husband Fred came to mind. I remembered sitting here with him on an afternoon like this.
I think about Fred more often this week. The second anniversary of his death is tomorrow, April 23. On that morning when his spirit left his body, the rhodies were blooming and the robins were singing. Tulips sprouted in a rainbow of colors amidst green leaves and green grass. After winter’s storms, we shed our coats and came outside.
It’s been two years since that shocking morning when our lives changed forever. It’s a little over four years since Fred fell and started his nursing home journey. It has been 11 years since his Alzheimer’s Disease became apparent. Sitting here in the yard with my dog Annie, who barely knew Fred, I ache for a human companion to sit with me.
I don’t usually sit on these chairs. I sprawl on the deck with the dog or sit out under a tree with a book or my guitar. Maybe I feel less grownup, less alone, sitting on the weathered wood of the deck.
I think about my father, also widowed, who often sits in his patio on an old leather recliner with split seams and stuffing coming out. Perhaps he remembers when the patio was new and the family gathered there for barbecues. There are cobwebs and spiders in the brick barbecue pit now. Almost 91, Dad goes on, and so do I.
I don’t think about my loss every minute. I’m busy with the good life God has given me, but sometimes something as simple as sitting in this blue-green plastic chair makes me think about my husband. It’s Fred season. The rhodies are blooming. The birds are singing. And tax season is over. Fred had a tax business and did people’s returns for more than 25 years. He barely looked up between late January and mid-April, but after April 15, we would take a vacation, often combining it with the celebration of our May 18 wedding anniversary. It would have been 28 years next month. What a wonderful day that was, blessed with the marks of spring, just like this day.
I miss my husband, my love, my companion, the man who made me laugh, made me feel safe, and made me see the joy in life. Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” I try to keep that in mind even as something deep inside me screams “No! I want him back.” In 2011, spring came, and it was time for Fred to graduate to the next life. I have to let him go. We all do. But let’s remember him this week. Stop to enjoy the flowers and the birds and sit on the deck in the sun with a good glass of wine. Cheers, Fred.