In Between

There is a cherry plum tree outside our window that is flowering early this year. The unusually warm spring-like January has confused a lot of the trees and flowers. As soon as the pink blossoms appeared, though, the weather cooled down and we’ve had several days of high winds and heavy rain. This happens most years: as soon as the delicate pink blossoms come out—the tree is at its prettiest then—the winds kick in. This conspiracy of the weather gods tosses the branches as the blossoms cling to their precarious hold on the tree. But inevitably, a pink carpet of blossoms covers the sidewalk.


It was two years on February 5, 2015 that my mom died. As soon as I start to feel I’ve recovered from another holiday season without her, and my life has slumped back into its daily plodding routine, I am faced with the anniversary of both her death and her life (her birthday is Feb. 14). A beginning so close to an end seems like a cruel conspiracy.

I took the afternoon off and went to Napa, bought some flowers and a small Valentine’s balloon to put at her grave site. At the house, the retreat, I was able to reflect and spend some time alone, away from the distractions and demands of my life.

I have felt out of balance, which is not a good thing for a Libra. To correct the imbalance I have tried to streamline possessions, to clear out physical space in an attempt to create “psychic” space—more room for the soul and the mind. I’ve been hoping that the removal of physical clutter will help alleviate the mental clutter. I have a long way to go before I feel I’ve made an actual dent in either.

The remodel of the house in Napa was cathartic as I started from scratch in re-filling it, curating only those things that had real meaning or purpose. Those things that haven’t made it into the house are in the purgatory of the garage, awaiting their fate.

I feel in purgatory, too, stuck between the acute, chest-crushing stab of grief and what I hope will be a blossoming of my former interests and hobbies. Now, though, it’s just a dull, chronic bruise of malaise. I shuffle from one week to the next, a blur of to-do lists and appointments.

Entering the third year of life without mom, with a fresh cottage retreat waiting for new memories to be made, I hope the winds won’t toss the delicate flowers off.

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