Seeing the spring

Ten years ago today my father died, only three months after my mother. As he lay dying I realised that, for me, his death would come too soon; but for him, heartbroken after the death of his darling wife, each day of those three months had been too long. And that, of course, is how we seek to console ourselves after bereavement: she's not suffering anymore... he's reunited with his wife... though such comforting thoughts can barely touch the surface of our grieving.

Three months ago, on my mother's anniversary, I described something of the past decade, and the gradual process of healing and recovery; the slow, barely perceptible return of life. I thought that today I would have nothing to add - and indeed, what I wrote then I could easily repeat today. But reflecting on this yesterday as I walked past a crocus-strewn churchyard, I realised something new.

My father died at this seasonal point, when winter is slowly oozing into spring, just as crocuses and daffodils begin to join snowdrops and the days noticeably start to lengthen and turn milder. But I cannot remember noticing a single flower, bird or new leaf, even though I was in my father's village, surrounded by hills and nature and people in whom its rhythms are innate. I saw only wintry death and greyness. Whereas now... now I can see the flowers; more than that, now I marvel at and relish the flowers... and buds and blue skies, and the gradual greening and quickening into new life.

Ten years ago I couldn't see any signs of spring... now I can see the spring, and the new life it brings, gliding in all around me...