After our family Easter parties this year, I was drawn to look back at pictures from Easter last year.
The difference in just one year, both in how Vanessa felt and acted, was staggering. Last year I remember her being a bit tired, but happily interacting with the kids and the extended family, hunting for eggs, etc.
This year the majority of Vanessa’s time at Easter gatherings was spent taking pictures of various textures and stuffed animals, and only occasionally interacting with or talking to others, although I believe she had a fine time attending each party.
It is so unbelievably hard to watch this process unfolding in slow motion.
I miss my sister so much, already.
But as spring unfolds and the days warm up (although not quite yet, as we had flurries here this morning, ugh!), I find myself reflecting once again on seasons. Seasons of weather, seasons of emotions, seasons of relationships, seasons of a life.
The bulbs blooming outside remind me to keep looking for the rebirth – in my garden, but also in myself and others. Just as I don’t ever want to get too complacent, too settled, or feel too sure I have anything all figured out, I also don’t want to miss noticing when those around me are growing, changing and teaching. To stagnate within a place, mindset or relationship ignores all the ways we can continually blossom and grow. Spring is when it all starts, with the seeds of hope, the seeds of change, seeds of joy.
As I got ready to put the kids’ heavy coats in the closet for the warm months, and dig out the baseball caps from storage, I thought about needing things for a time, and then putting them away knowing we will/may come back to them. There is an obvious association for me here with specific feelings and skills I pull out frequently (but not constantly), as needed – the grief that bubbles to the surface but then recedes with the reminders that life is still wonderful, the hope I keep in my back pocket to revive me when I’m sagging and doubting, the energizer-bunny me that emerges when there is a crisis and steps up to the plate before then putting the usual, slower (lazier!) me back in charge when the crisis is over. Sometimes I just need to be confident and outgoing and make connections, while other times I just need to put that away while I pull into my head, think about things, and be alone. It’s cyclical, like the seasons.
Additionally, though, this taking out/putting away for the season also reminds me a lot of some focuses, passions, and even friendships, cycling in and out of our life as they are relevant or needed. I want to be better about deliberately reflecting in order to recognize: when something in my life has run its course, when there is something I need to bring back in, and what is currently already in my life that I want to put more emphasis or focus or energy on. We routinely handle the seasons of the year with deliberate tasks we just do: put up the tree, take down the lights, clean the gutters, air out the garage, wash the cars, find the coats, bring the umbrellas. I want to do such purposeful tasks to mark the changing seasons of my life, too.
Vanessa continues to shuffle forward farther into the last season of her life. Each day, we see more ways this last season for her is coming full circle to her first. She, much like her child self, has very few complex comprehensions or concerns, but a slowly intense focus on her interests of the moment. (Also like her child self, she is very much digging all things that sparkle, dressing up, and giving people presents!) I wish with my entire heart she were living a full, passionate, normal life right now, with her hoped-for dreams for her 31 years- but in truth, her seasons are winding down now. In a more condensed period than most of us are given, Vanessa’s already had the new, hopeful and naive spring days; the sunniest, happiest, most carefree summer days that her life will hold; the reflective and purposeful cool days of fall; and now she is hunkering downward and inward to wrap up the winter of her life.
Ideally, one has a good few decades in each of these seasons of life. But even for a life shortened, to get to spend time in each distinct season, and be surrounded by love all along the way, seems to some extent to be a full and lucky life, all the same.
I know the literal seasons of this year will bring so MUCH yet – so much change, so much pain, so much uncertainty, so much I can’t even imagine. Yet also so much support, so much love, so much connecting, so much to learn.
No matter what our own individual circumstance or challenges or beliefs or history, we each have choices we get to make every day, that make a difference in how the rest of our life will unfold.
Until the very second our life is ultimately over, every single moment can be a new beginning. How amazing is that?!