March might have gone out like a lamb, but April has lumbered in like a stunned polar bear—frigid temps, high winds, and snow. More than an aberrant dusting, this nonsense is into its second forty-eight hours, well past April Fool’s Day. It’s still sifting out of a pewter bowl of a sky.
Yesterday I woke up to bright sunshine and a pristine fluffy blanket coating forsythia and grape hyacinths, magnolias and all the sweet emerging buds in their festive greenery. Out of the blue, I remembered a white bunny fur jacket I wore at Easter when I was a little girl—so pretty and soft over my crisp, flowered pastel dress. Mom sewed matching outfits for me and my sister (only mine was blue, Dianne’s pink). My skirt billowed beneath the cropped jacket, which was probably beyond our budget. I snuggled into it, feeling like a princess. No connection was made in my mind to any possible suffering involving the same kind of adorable pets I once had, living up on Beacon Hill Road, when my father was still alive. Now I wonder if this was some kind of trade-off. My newly widowed mother could no longer handle the bunnies, peeps, and ducklings, always appearing at Easter time, then played with and raised in pens in our large back yard.
This morning I worried about the translucent spider I had inadvertently whisked out of a dusty corner of my garage, that freaky, balmy day before the cold front muscled in. I had injured a few of his gossamer legs. It took several attempts to scoop him up onto a dried leaf and deposit him in the adjacent strawberry patch which was starting to green up. (I often wonder about my random acts of saving insects—do I instead hasten their demise?)
Last Thursday night I got a phone call. My friend of fifty years, Darla, had died of a massive heart attack. I include that word “massive” because it not only sobers me—I am in that age bracket for such endings—but also brings a thread of hope that massive means instantaneous. That she did not suffer. She had entered the hospital with back pain, and that did not bode well. A year previous, a similar complaint had resulted in the discovery of cancer in her bones, and then her breast. The most recent check-up revealed that the remission (I thought she was in while visiting her last summer) had run its course. But what really was destroying Darla was the never-ending drip of a sadness from the sudden death of her husband nearly two decades ago. I tried with every conversation to tip the topic to looking forward in her life. But it was futile. She only wanted to look backwards, when she had felt most alive. And the cancer cells were now in her liver. Now. Then. Darla is gone, at least on this plane.
But winter, apparently, is still here. I feel trapped in the cold, with still-warm memories of my friend offering comfort, at a cost. Sort of like that white bunny fur jacket.
copyright Sharon Watts
photo from personal archive