It was her last summer. She didn't know it. I didn't know it. We probably should have known it. We deliberately didn't think about it.
She'd brought me some hyacinth bulbs on her last visit, late that summer. She asked me to plant them right away. I was irritated about that. I didn't want to. I really, really hate playing around in the dirt. In fact, if you saw how quickly I get my flowers in during the summer, it would make you chuckle. I just want to get it over with. I hate having my hands in the dirt. Gloves feel strange. But not wearing them is worse. I hate dirt under my fingernails, and I hate the way the soil dries out my skin.
I didn't want them. She insisted. She'd brought them over just for me.
We hugged in the kitchen before she left. For a long time. I started to think about her illness as I held her. I knew that she knew what I was thinking. I started crying. She asked, "do you believe in God?" I said I did. And she said that there was nothing to be concerned about then, was there?
I watched as they pulled out of the driveway, as I'd done many times. She waved, as she always did. I waved back, as I always did. And then they were gone. I didn't realize it was the last time there would be a "they" pulling out of the driveway. That was an infinite kindness, because I could never have let her go.
And then I planted those damned bulbs. Did I mention I was irritated about that? We were getting ready to leave for vacation that day, and it was the last thing I wanted to do. So, unthinking, I jammed them into the soil in front of the house and forgot about them.
And then I lost her in mid-September.
It was unthinkable that I could lose my mom. It is still unthinkable. We buried her on a beautiful fall day.
And winter followed, and then spring. And the flowers that I'd forgotten by then pushed through following their hibernation in the cold ground. A rebirth.
This is the third spring. And once again, they've come up to greet me. Because they never forget.