Summer sweet & sorrow

Picking raspberries on a Sunday, early evening. The sun is coming through the leaves of the plants, creating a golden green, the veins illuminated, infused. This is how it happens: the Earth doing her earth-thing, providing us with what we need, and more… It is a zenith moment, high summer… just before the first tip toward autumn.

We have pulled the peas that our grandson planted last March, visiting us on his spring break. They were wonderful Jaden, and we thought of you with every bite! Earlier this day, we planted another row of lettuce and spinach, hoping for the garden harvest to extend long into the cooling days. I love this tending–such an antidote to all things digital.

I am entranced in my task, eating as I pick. Our little corgi is sitting at my feet, waiting her share. Her dog lips gently pluck the offered berry from my extended palm. I am a smile–my whole being is happy and running with juice.

IMG_22761-225x300A couple of newly married neighbors walk down the gravel road that is our shared string of homes. They are holding hands and talking softly–their almost daily ritual at the end of work: he in the local shipyard, she at the local grocery store. They wave. I walk out to meet them.

“Cup your hands,” I say to them. And into their empty bowls of flesh, I pour a mound of raspberries for each. We stand in our delight. They move on, their conversation punctuated by raspberry sucking. I go back to my happy harvest.

Earlier today I was fashioning a memorial card for next Sunday’s gathering on the shores of Lake Superior in Duluth when Brian’s Minnesota family and friends will spend the day remembering him. We remember you every day, Brian… Eight months into this passage, I am the stage of grief where I find myself calling out to him from my heart, “What an amazing journey, this grief walk… Your mother and I have learned so much… and we miss you so much. I am sure you are learning wondrous things over there on the other side of the garden, your being infused with golden green. Could you come back–just for an evening? Let’s sit on the patio in the high point of summer, sit where we sat last summer and did not know it would be the last time, please…. I have raspberries, and so much I want to tell you and hear from you!”

The “dead” respond as they can. I hear his voice in my head. I receive him in my dreams. I look at his photos. I watch the raspberries turn to rubies through the prism of my tears. I look up– The white stag who lives in the neighboring woods is walking down the road. He stops, unafraid, turns and looks directly at me. We hold one another’s gaze.
I move quietly to the patio, Ann and I stand arm in arm… I feed her berries. The deer regards us still, then moves on, hoofs tapping lightly on the gravel. The dog has not barked.

WS1-300x225This is how it is. Sorrow is sometimes sweet and juicy. Grief can be infused with light.

You who are freshly suffering–know that the juice returns. Know that magic happens, that the veil is often thin. Hold out your cupped hands and they will be filled with what you need to get through this moment, and the next. This is how it is.

16 replies
  1. Sharon Faulds
    Sharon Faulds says:

    You brought a tear to my eye as we celebrate the engagement of our daughter. The love in your hearts is so wondrous and continues to teach us deeply about the journey of our lives. Thank you for sharing this moment. Much Love

  2. Annamária Erdei
    Annamária Erdei says:

    Thank you for reminding me of the beauty that lies in every moment, the simplest moments bearing often the greatest gifts. Thank you for helping me to keep alive my connection to what really matters and to get beyond the unrealities of the “real” life around us. Thank you for your courage to speak up and to be who you are. Thank you for sharing, thank you for being. A big bow from my heart.
    Sending you love, lots of love, to both of you. Wishing you the simplicity and the beauty of the juicy raspberries for the gathering.

  3. Floralyn Groff Perry
    Floralyn Groff Perry says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this sweet story of grief that continues to emerge as it also changes you. I have been so meaning to send my condolences to you and Ann, but somehow have been lost in the busyness, of just getting through each day. Some days are easier than others, as I’m sure you both well know. But I do try to remember that each day is a gift to behold. Love, Floralyn

  4. Jeanne Guy
    Jeanne Guy says:

    I made it all the way to “The “dead” respond as they can. I hear his voice in my head. I receive him in my dreams. I look at his photos. I watch the raspberries turn to rubies through the prism of my tears.” Then my own tears spilled out of tired eyes.

    Thank you for your gift of words and allowing us all to share in your life as you remind us to fully live in ours.

    And now a word to the wise: don’t eat all the raspberries.

  5. Elizabeth Agte
    Elizabeth Agte says:

    Yes. Yes. I have been in that place too. And now I tear up thinking about that glorious day last fall, soaking in the beauty of being alive as I mourned one of my most out loud and truly alive friends. She is present in the moments I am being my truest self.

  6. Bev Haskins
    Bev Haskins says:

    I solicit my grandson and son’s help as often as I can to help me get down the road to a local farmer for the fresh produce we are blessed with in Ontario. The raspberries and wild blueberries are at the top of my list. It is not summer and living without them. When everyone is too busy to take me and I have run out of all things fresh I long so much for my freedom and independence to return, but then I am reminded , when I read posts such as yours, that I am alive and able to eat and enjoy these foods at all and I am humbly grateful and know that I will have the privilege of getting there again soon.
    Thank you for sharing your heart.
    with love,

  7. Heather Plett
    Heather Plett says:

    Beautiful. Thank you. My family and I are on a magnificent vacation, which feels so very healing after a couple of years of grief. With my oldest two daughters, I hiked to the top of a cliff overlooking Lake Superior, and I could swear I could feel Ann’s presence there, having come to know her first through Deep Water Passage. It feels especially meaningful now, knowing you and Ann will soon stand on the shore of that same lake, remembering Brian. Peace be with you.

  8. Julie Mitchell
    Julie Mitchell says:

    Christina, I have felt you and Anne surrounding me “in spirit” through a bittersweet summer of sorrow as I open myself more fully to grief. How wonderful to find your blog post at this time when I most need your wise words!

  9. Kate Lipkis
    Kate Lipkis says:

    Such delicious and poignant moments remembered. Thank you Christina. Brian is so lucky to have you both – and others I don’t doubt – as his loving container on this side.

  10. James Wells
    James Wells says:

    What an honour to share Life’s sweetness from the table of the broken-open heart, Christina. I’m freshly amazed when Nature carries on in Her generosity, even in the aftermath of unliked surprises. Love to you and Ann.

  11. Lynn McLure
    Lynn McLure says:

    This post means a great deal to me as I watch my daughter tending to her newly quadraplegic husband and try to bear the heartbreak of watching this young couple deal with the brutalities of catastrophic illness. The loss is quite a different one, but I was so infused with hope as I read your post/meditation. I have just come in from picking blackberries so it was so very timely. Thank you and blessings.

  12. Jude Rathburn
    Jude Rathburn says:

    I am continuing to hold you and Ann in my heart as you move through life with Brian’s memory a constant reminder of the preciousness of living with a loving heart. Thank you for the gift you are to the world. I send blessings of continued healing to you both. With love and gratitude – Jude

  13. Beth Boeck
    Beth Boeck says:

    Thank you for sharing your blog post with me Christina. I was so moved reading it because Dave sat on our deck our last morning together while I picked raspberries from my garden. The day is such a crisp memory in my mind. I remember coming up to the deck and sitting in the sun with Dave while we recounted what a lovely summer it had been and how we’d enjoyed having friends over on the deck and the many camping trios we had taken. We shared some of the red juicy berries then went into the house and for the first and inky time he helped me make the jam. The berries are gone and days have grown cold but the memory of our last day together is warm and comforting. How could I have known it would be our last perfect day.

  14. Kerley Carol
    Kerley Carol says:

    Thank you so for sharing with me about this loss the two of you shared
    in 2014. Beautiful words. Lucky son to have had the two you as his Mother.


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