Friday, April 15, 2011


The redbuds in our yard are about to bloom. Last year was the first year I was really aware of them, knew them as trees with a name. It was our first spring in a new house, and a happy surprise to discover that these small, slightly twisted silhouettes held so much latent grace. I love that about new places—discovering with each season all the treasures each one has to offer.

Last spring while the redbuds were blooming, my grandma was dying. It was precisely this weekend—the weekend of the Children’s Literature Festival at our local university, the weekend of our final symphony concert of the season, the weekend of some of my favorite things—that my sister called me early Sunday morning. “Grammy is giving up.” All weekend, knowing that she was in the hospital, I had considered this possibility. I lay in bed and cried for what was coming. Within a few hours we were driving to Lincoln. We had a reunion of sorts in the hospital; cousins, aunts, and uncles gathered around her bed while she acknowledged that yes, she knew it was possible to treat this, but she was ready to go.

We made more trips back and forth. All around us everything was coming to life. There were flowers in my grandma’s apartment and flowers outside her window. In the middle of everything we had time to say goodbye, time to sit with her, time to talk, time to sing, time to cry. Time was at once suspended and moving forward, and I can honestly say that there was beauty all around us and we saw it along with the hurt.

This is my favorite part of spring—when the buds have not fully opened and the greens are all new, when everything is about to burst but hasn’t yet. There was a spring a few years ago, in another city, when a cold snap hit just as everything was getting ready to open. We lived for what seemed like a week, maybe two, in a state of suspension, in the state of delicacy just before blooming. There have been springs I missed that moment entirely, but that year I got to revel in it. I took it as a personal gift, even though I knew it wasn’t about me at all.

This year I am watching spring and thinking of my grandma. Last year we lived in a state of suspension. This year everything seems to be moving on pace. I hope, though, that I am changed. I can live so myopically. It was so clear what was important, sitting with my grandma, her telling me that I was doing the important things--that I was surrounded by them, in fact. Hourly, though, I easily forget that I am in the middle of time, in the midst of loved ones. So I keep trying to stay awake to the reminders, keep trying to take hold of the moments when time is suspended, even as it marches on.


  1. Maybe all things do happen "at once", but we order time with our attention! Thanks for sharing a bit of your attention and, in turn, reminding me to focus mine!

  2. This is a beautiful, heartfelt post. My grandmother died 12 years ago and I still talk to her every day in my heart and mind. Sometime when I'm cooking I put the tape I made of her on so that I can hear her voice in the background. XO

  3. Thank you. What a treasure to have a tape like that. (I'm playing my own grandma's voice in my head right now.)


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