It’s the first day of spring, and my Mom beckons me to visit her in ‘The Gardens’ where she peacefully rests. I enter the driveway under the shade of the huge cedar tree, until the warming spring sun meets me, and I circle around beside the lake, and pass by the Chinese pagoda on the right, and the chapel on the left.
I arrive at The Garden of The Good Shepherd, with a statue of a shepherd in the center, his eyes watching over my Mom’s headstone. The only sound comes from two enormous Canada geese who are sipping water running from a hose on the path nearby.
There are more flowers in ‘The Gardens’ than the golf course and all the big lawns of the houses beside it combined, and the blooms are ablaze in pots and bouquets and wreaths in every shade of cheerful red, yellow and orange, creating a peaceful and beautiful spot.
Words matter, and I prefer the euphemism ‘garden’ over cemetery. Gardens are grown, cultivated and nurtured, while cemeteries are maintained.
I do not feel grief, but I feel nature rejuvenating my senses, and infusing me with life honoring energy.
A small miracle occurs each time I visit. On one occasion, my sister felt as if someone was watching us, and there was a beautiful coyote standing as still as a statue, staring at us from the distance. Another time, my brother said it seemed as if all the song birds in the area had gathered to sing for us.
On my first visit after Mom died, I drove out the exit and traffic was stopped. Then a mother duck jumped off the curb, and trailed three wee ducklings behind her across the street, in front of my car. The ducklings were so tiny, they made a few attempts before getting up the curb on the other side. What symbolism! Three of us had helped Mom a lot around the time of her passing, and it might sound weird, but this felt like she was giving a little gift to us.
I place a pot of pink flowers into the holder on her headstone, and sweep debris off her stone with my hand, and remember a verse from her favorite song, Danny Boy, that she used to sing to me:
And I shall hear, though soft, your tread above me
And all my grave shall warmer, sweeter be
For you will bend and tell me that you love me
And I will sleep in peace until you come to me.
Visiting here helps me cherish the gift of life.
I think about the frivolous sign I saw in the store where I bought her the flowers earlier:
“Life is Short, Buy the Shoes”.
It is a metaphor for going after what makes us happy in life, like buying the shoes we long for, and to softly tread along the sweet path of our lives in them.