In the week following Henry’s death on May 31 of last year – a week I can’t really remember at all, and during which I only rarely left my darkened bedroom – some good friends and neighbors of ours quietly ripped out the mess of tangled, ugly shrubs and weeds that had been occupying a prime location in our front yard, and they all pitched in to create a new, gorgeous garden for Henry in place of the previous mess. They put in roses, and coreopsis and coneflowers, and all kinds of other favorite plants and flowers of mine, including a beautiful Japanese Maple as the centerpiece.
Lots of people pitched in to rip out the old shrubs and weeds
June 1-3 2010
(As this was all happening, I was inside the house, sedated and sequestered in my bedroom, completely unaware of anything but the fact that Henry had died a few days before, so I truly had no idea that any of this kindness was happening right out in our front yard.)
Our friend and neighbor Doug M. putting in the new garden with help from Henry’s little brother, E
June 2, 2010
When I emerged from my bedroom on the day of Henry’s memorial service, five days after his death, and actually came outside again for the first time, seeing this beautiful new life in my front yard made me smile. There really isn’t any way to explain how much this little garden for Henry meant to me. Of all the amazing and incredibly thoughtful ways that people took care of me and our family in those horrible early weeks, this beautiful garden suddenly appearing in our yard, in a spot that had previously been neglected and barren, just meant something very special to me.
June 5, 2005
Day of Henry’s memorial service
Over the winter, this first winter, Henry’s garden went into hibernation. It seemed to be mourning right along with me.
Snow on the Japanese Maple in Henry’s Garden – Winter 2010-2011
Saint Francis joined Henry’s Garden late in the winter. Henry loved animals of all kinds.
I have dreaded the month of April coming again. April 2010 was the last month in which my son ever walked on his own, played a guitar, read a book, chased his younger cousins, skateboarded with his little brother, threw his youngest sister in the air while she giggled, or swung on the porchswing at our house in which I am sitting now, writing this.
April 27, 2010 was the Before/After moment in my life, and in the life of our whole family.
So yes, these first few days of April – this first April – have been very, very hard. I find myself crying a lot again. I see Henry everywhere and nowhere. I imagine him calling out for me, in joy, and – in my worst moments – in the terror he must have felt when he realized that he was trapped, helpless and dying inside the residence of two grown-ups he had naively trusted, people who could have summoned help for him, but refused.
But one thing that’s provided me with a flicker of joy in the last week has been the rebirth of Henry’s Garden, after its winter of repose. Suddenly, tiny green shoots are poking up through the dirt, and the first spring flowers are starting to bloom.
April 2, 20110
Moses the Cat, Elder Statesman among our family’s critters (he’s 10 now) loves to snooze in the spring sunshine in Henry’s Garden. He misses his boy. We all do.
I’ve spent all weekend weeding my son’s garden. Fussing over it and tending to the edges and adding some Zinnia seeds. I plan to mulch it this evening or maybe tomorrow after work. I’ve found more relaxation and peace in pulling those weeds in the past few days than I have in anything else in a very, very long time.
I never again get to wash a load of my son’s dirty t-shirts, or take him for a haircut or to have his teeth cleaned. I will never again take his temperature when he’s sick, or cook him a meal. I will never see him graduate college, or fall in love. I will never know my grandchild, his child.
But I can weed Henry’s Garden. I can pull every single last weed out, and I can add beautiful new flowers every year. I’m trying to find some monkey-themed garden art to add, because Henry always wanted a monkey. I can do these things. I can fuss over Henry’s Garden, making sure everything is healthy and well-tended and beautiful. No one can ever take that away from me.