Finding Beauty

Life beyond grief.

Posted Jul 01, 2020

Photo courtesy of Izabella Witucki
Source: Photo courtesy of Izabella Witucki

My home is my happy place.  The deck, my oasis. This past year has been riddled with challenges. It has been difficult for the entire world. In a variety of ways, for one reason or another, we have all been grieving. There has been a pervasive sense of loss that has blanketed humankind and with that, the unsettling emotions that continuously feed the question, “Where do we go from here?” For me, the answers have been slow to reveal themselves. As the days have passed and emotions have tirelessly vacillated from one extreme to the other, it has become increasingly important for me to center myself by looking for the beauty in my surroundings. For me to survive – to flourish – it is critical that I pause, take the time to breathe, and appreciate life in all its forms. I look to nature, I acknowledge the beauty, and I seek the light.

As I watched the sun rise in the summer sky, I wandered to the smooth wooden bench we carefully selected in memory of my mom. I sat in the cozy little corner surrounded by magnificent blossoms and slowly wiped my brow as a beautiful hummingbird flittered nearby. I had just spent the better part of an hour watering flowers, pruning plants, and checking for new growth, so I welcomed the break. As my eyes took in the panoramic view, I could not help but smile. Everywhere I looked, my eyes were met with beautifully abundant life in its simplest forms. Miniature tomatoes were beginning to sprout, bell peppers were developing into weighty little delights, and the herbs - an olfactory buffet! We lovingly restored and strategically placed the baker’s rack that belonged to my mom in a corner of the deck. Each shelf supported containers holding a variety of herbs. Cilantro, rosemary, lemon thyme, parsley, oregano, chives, and basil. All delicious treats for the senses that permeated the air and awakened the creative spirit.

A fluttering of wings, completely absent of sound, caught my attention. I shifted my gaze and discovered a butterfly effortlessly moving from flower to flower. I sighed peacefully as I watched the graceful flight. The entire perimeter of the deck was decorated by voluminous blooms cascading over the edge. Brilliant hues of fuchsia, orange, and white excitedly reached to meet the sun-kissed blooms rising from below. The eager tendrils firmly gripped the trellises and supported the amber, white, and coral blossoms as they began their exploratory ascent. The wheat-colored plumes on the ornamental grasses swayed in the gentle breeze, and the deep green fern gently waved its delicate fronds. The entire scene was brilliant. The choreography superb. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. The warmth of the summer sun spread across my shoulders and brought comfort to my soul.

In the distance, I could hear the musical laughter of the children at the park, the joyous squeal of the curious puppy in the neighboring yard, and the rhythmic pulsation of sprinklers hydrating the lush green lawns. It was a beautiful symphony. I sighed, opened my eyes, and made eye contact with an exquisite robin who set up housekeeping on the top shelf of the baker’s rack. She was securely nestled between the oregano and the chives, and she cautiously observed my every move. Day after day, she sat patiently on her three little eggs. I did what I could to reassure her, and we both looked forward to the hatching of her little chicks.

The placement of this nest is quite meaningful to me. Year after year, my mom sat on her patio and talked to the winged creatures as they constructed their nests. She spoke to them in soothing tones, and they shared with her the joy of new life. Despite her absence, it seemed fitting this pattern would continue with her baker’s rack being their residence of choice. Some might argue this is simply nature doing what it does. But this idea, the continuation of a life-giving tradition, nourishes my soul. It honors her memory and contributes to my healing in a profound way. I once again closed my eyes, lifted my face to the sun, and smiled. In that moment, a complete sense of well-being filled my heart, and I felt her presence. A gentle breeze caressed my face, and I could almost hear her whisper, “You’re going to be alright.”

Copyright Linda Seiford, Ph.D.