I haven’t been out in my back yard. It seemed to me the front yard, with all it’s roses and lavender, was my domain. It was where I performed all of my magical garden experiments. It’s where I had my Adirondack chairs, beckoning my neighbors to stroll over and have a visit. My butterfly bushes and beach roses greeted them, the scents of their summery fragrances evoking another place and time.
The back yard, however, was different story. This was Scott’s land. Land of shade trees and His favorite Japanese Maple, The small garage he had put french doors on, with the hopes of turning it into a painting/writing studio. All things seemed possible, with remission. He was declared, “in remission”, and his port had been surgically removed. This freaked me out,it was something I was terrified of, being the professional worrier that I am.”What if your cancer comes back? What if you need to have chemo again?” This was not my husband’s way. He was a zen master. he was looking at his new beginning with hope and gratefulness. Now he was going to create a sanctuary for himself, complete with Tshirts and baseball caps, Budweiser in bottles and lawnmowers on Saturdays. Scott got as far as the garage doors and putting in a hydrangea tree and black eyed susans. We were going to white wash the barn wood on the inside of the garage, and put in a tile floor. The very sad truth of this was, it was not to be. His cancer did come back with a vengeance, not fearing chemo or radiation or even God himself. Cancer does not play by any rules we here on this green earth take for granted. It is a robber of joy, a stealer of peace.
The very best thing about Scott’s backyard were the raspberries our wonderful neighbor’s, Al and Dan, planted up against our properties. Scott adored the idea of a man walking out on his own land and picking the fruits of his labor. (actually, Al and Dan) Even the kids knew not to pick those raspberries, they were for Daddy. It was worth it, just to see the delight on his face, popping one into his grinning, wide open mouth.
This past weekend, on our anniversary, I went into Scott’s backyard oasis. I hadn’t had the courage to go back out there, instead employing the services of Dave, the English Gardener. I call him that because that’s what his card says. He is more than just, Dave.
Well, as I was strolling in the back, I came upon the raspberries. They were heavy on the vine, pregnant and overflowing with possibilities. I had completely forgotten about them, and it it me like a ton of bricks. The tears flowed fast and furious, bitter and lost. “Who will pick these now?!”, I muttered to myself? They were sacred. I had myself a good, long cry. The day to days of life were wearing me down. I was tired. I was lonely. I didn’t want to take care of Scott’s backyard.I wanted him to come back and do it. I think I even told him, in a secret whisper, “Ok, you’ve been gone a long time now. Please come home.” That’s the strange thing about grief. You want everything to stay exactly the way it is, but it can’t. Life forces you to move ahead, kicking and screaming. I ate one of those raspberries, sweet and plump. Plop went my tears, onto the baseball hat I was holding in my left hand. I looked at the berries, just dangling an inch from the ground. So heavy, so ripe. So alive. It seemed a waste to let them just fall on the floor. I decided to share them with our children. Daddy’s berries. The very best from the fruits of all his labors.