After a long and punishing winter, it’s a wistful experience to examine the garden in early spring and discover what has not come back, and is not coming back. You stand there in the dirt looking around, noting that the rose bush has made it through the winter; the rhododendron has made it through; many of the hyacinths and daffodils made it through.
But where is the lone foxglove? you wonder. No sign of it—nothing is there where it used to be. So the questions follow. What happened? What went wrong over the winter? Was it one thing, or a million things? What was the foxglove up against? In any case, despite the challenges, why didn’t it hang on? Why didn’t it survive? What was the cause of death, both the immediate cause and the ultimate cause?
You marvel at all that returns in spring, knowing or feeling that somehow the loftiest kind of magic is responsible. And you ache for what does not return, knowing or feeling that some meaningful yet mysterious drama has ended in sadness; though also knowing or feeling—with a glint of hope—that you do not really know how the story ends.
My brother Greg, age 51, died two weeks ago, on May 13, 2014.