Sometime between the fading of the hot pink blooms of the redbud trees and the arrival of the purple striped tulips, I began my daily watch. Last week I drove by to see, but it was not yet time. Patience, I reminded myself.
But now it was a Monday morning after a week of biding my time.
I awake at six. I sharpen my clippers. I put on walking shoes and my garden gloves. I find the turquoise bucket that once belonged to my late friend Mary and fill it a third full of water.
I head out, softly singing a verse of Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’ , recalling it was less than a year ago we heard it sung on Broadway. I walk down the unpaved alley lined with weeds already a yard tall. I stop behind an industrial building whose business I’ve never discerned and whose people I’ve never seen.
A row of lush green bushes stretches some twenty feet long and ten feet high. I’ve arrived at my secret spot. It is the place I go once each spring to gather my gigantic bouquet of lilacs for the law office. Annually It fills the entire lobby with a fragrance so sweet it captures you the moment you step through the door.
I looked. I didn’t see a single bloom. I looked again. I saw only one. I walked around studying the branches and could see two more rather pathetic looking bits of lavender that were out of reach.
I searched for the sign of buds. Perhaps I’d not been patient enough. Maybe I just needed to come back in a few days? But there were to be no more.
I clip one lone barely flowering stem and place it gently in my bucket. I turn and walk home.
Perhaps the lilacs were on lockdown. Perhaps they thought there was no need to show up with their usual array of admirers working remotely. Or maybe they knew Megan at the front desk would be wearing a mask covering her nose. Whatever their reason, I felt the ruin of my little lilac ritual.
It was not a one time graduation gone away, a wedding waiting for another year, or a memorial service moved to a computer screen. Still, I was sad.
The suffering of others does not result in the escape of our own, no matter how small ours or how great theirs. We each have our losses.
While my tiny tradition was not to unfold as hoped, the world gave me plenty of other May morning gifts. The dawn’s fresh air, the memory of my friend Mary and a marvelous musical, and an appreciation of being alive to experience it all.
Have you acknowledged your little disappointments?
Can you call forth self-compassion for your losses both big and small?
Can you hold both sadness and gratitude?