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The winter had been long. Not overly hard, not even overly cold, but it had been long, as long and grey and dreary as I had felt. The grey days and colorless countryside seemed appropriate as I sleepwalked through them in my grief.

How could the sun shine when Pete was no longer there to see it? How could there be color in the world when the man I loved was gone? I had borne his children, shared the good times and the bad, we were supposed to grow old together.

Just last fall we had been together in the beautiful world of blue skies, red and gold leaves, and the bright colors of chrysanthemums blooming on the edge of the garden. We had laughed together when the wind blew the leaves in a huge swirl, dropping them back to where he had just cleared them away. He worked in the flower beds around the house, planting bulbs, mulching roses, getting everything ready for winter. I cleared the last vines and plants from my vegetable garden so soil would be ready to be turned in the spring.

How were we to know that he would not be there to see the bulbs bloom in the spring? I never dreamed he wouldnít live long enough to turn the soil in the garden another spring. It wasnít just the gardens of course; it was all of the areas of our lives that we had shared that we would never share again. The trips to the store, the Sunday crossword puzzle, eating grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup on rainy days, there were so many things, so many moments that seemed ordinary and mundane when they happened, but looking back I saw them as parts of the wonderful life we shared.

When Pete had died suddenly of heart failure in early November, all of the sunshine and happiness went out of my life. My world became as colorless as the surrounding countryside.

The holidays had been horrible. The kids and grandkids tried so hard to cheer me up. I had to pretend in order to make them feel better, but I would go home and cry myself to sleep from the grief of missing Pete. I lost weight because I couldnít eat. I fell asleep during the day but couldnít sleep at night. I wandered around the house at night looking at things we had purchased together. Picking up his pipe to feel the soft worn stem where he had touched it so many times. I would pull out the albums and look back at all of the pictures, all of the good times we had had during the many years we were together.

I knew I was depressed. I wanted to die too, so I could go and be with Pete. I saw no reason to live. I knew nothing would ever be right in my world again. I talked to my pastor. He said many wise and helpful things, but I didnít really hear them. I talked to my doctor. He wrote a prescription that made me sleep even more, but didnít make me feel any better.

Finally it was March. Ash Wednesday seemed so appropriate. The solemnity, the ashes, and all I could think was, Ďashes to ashes, dust to dust.í Lent suited my mood. But in my mind lent was not going to end with the glory of Easter. Lent would just go on and on, forever.

The grayness of winter was beginning to give way to sun and wind as nature moved toward spring. Seeing the sun shining on the house or the fields caused me to cry. It would have been so beautiful if only Pete were there to share it with me. Without him, why must the sun come out and cause me more pain?

About the middle of March I went outside and started to walk around the house. I had no destination, nor any thing in mind. It was simply something to do. That is when I noticed the small green shoots in the flower beds. It was the bulbs Pete had planted last fall. Those dry, dead looking bulbs were beginning to sprout. It was so unfair! A dead bulb could be buried in the earth and could sprout in the spring, alive and vital. I had buried Pete in the earth, but he was not going to sprout and bloom. He was not going to rise as Jesus had on Easter morning. He was gone and so was everything I had to live for.

I walked away from the little green shoots feeling as though they had struggled up through the dirt just to antagonize me. Several days later I saw something purple by the side of the house. I walked over to look. It was a crocus. The little green sprouts had pushed up flower buds and the sunshine was causing the buds to open and bloom. There were more, yellow, white and the bright purple that had caught my eye.

I sank down on the grass and just looked at the flowers. They were so small and delicate, but they had pushed their way through the still partially frozen earth, forced their green sprouts up into the sunshine, and now, they were blooming. There was still snow on the north side of the house, but over here, on the south side, these little flowers were blooming as though the whole world could be warmed and brightened by their very existence.

I donít know how long I sat there looking at the delicate petals, the bright colors, feeling the sunshine warming my back. When I got up, I looked at some of the other flower beds Pete had been working in last fall. I found daffodils and jonquils just beginning to push their green leaves up through the earth. In another bed, what looked like they might be tulips, were pushing the earth up into little mounds. Soon they too would be seeking the sunshine and light to be found above the dirt.

I donít know what message the flowers gave me that day, but I began to feel better. I found I was looking forward to tomorrow. I wanted to see what other plants were coming back to life. I found myself entranced by the idea of those dry, dead bulbs coming to life, blooming their bright colors. They were one of Godís creations and they knew when it was time for winter to end and for the dead to come back to life.

Pete wasnít going to come back to life, but I could. I had been living as if I were already dead. I had wanted to be dead. But the flowers taught me it was time to live.

Pete wasnít going to come back from the dead, but Jesus had. Jesus had died for me. For me! He had died for Pete. He had died for me. He died so that we could have eternal life. He came back to make us new. If He could die for my sins and rise again to defeat death, then the least I could do is to dig myself out of the living grave I had been living in.

I began by tending the flowers, the beautiful flowers that every year remind us that death can be overcome. I tended the flowers Pete had planted. He knew they would come to life in the spring. Did he know how much I would need their message?

Soon I found myself looking forward to Easter. I would color Easter eggs for the grandchildren. I would call my daughter and make plans. It was time for the sadness of lent to pass and the glory of the risen Lord to emerge. It was spring, time for all things to celebrate life. Even me.

If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?


The following comments are for "The Message of the Crocus"
by phoehne

A lovely and moving story.

In its beauty and simplicity, the unassuming crocus is able to achieve small miracles every year.

Perhaps planting crocus bulbs on a gravesite would be very meaningful?

( Posted by: MM [Member] On: February 17, 2003 )

Crocus bulbs
Planting crocus bulbs on a gravesite would be meaningful reminder that death is not the end. They are one of the very few flowers that might be possible in most cemetaries these days. They are done blooming and the leaves have begun to die back by the time the mowers come out in the spring.

( Posted by: phoehne [Member] On: February 18, 2003 )

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