Spring is here. In Texas, bluebonnets rise in the fields to make picturesque scenes; giving birth to vast seas of flowers in pastures and prairies. It's the sort of landscape Van Gogh would have painted if he lived in Texas, bright colors and blue skies. People pull over along the interstate to take pictures. If something looks nice enough to get a Texan out of there car on an interstate, you can rest assured it's special. I am biased, but there are few things in life more wonderful than a Texas spring. Weather that begs for patios, shorts, and open windows. I like to think the weather in heaven is like this.
Last spring was the prime of James' life such as it were. He had reached that age between crying and walking that our pediatrician described as "perfect." He smiled constantly, cried rarely, and was an absolute joy. We took trips to the arboretum often, taking full advantage of the family membership we bought when Kara was pregnant. James had many photo shoots there. James and the Tulips. James and the grass with Daddy shadow (an ill-advised unsanctioned shoot). One spring day James and I sat in the patio of the makeshift biergarten in the middle of the arboretum and watched the world go by for an hour or two, James munching on a mum-mum and I a nursing a beer. I remember exactly what he as wearing. Rolled up jeans. Red plaid shirt. He kept trying to twist his way towards the silverware on the edge of the table. We had a good time.
That seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago. Today is eight months and seventeen days since James died. James lived exactly eight months and seventeen days. The split doesn't seem right. The new spring seems out of place, lovely as it is. It feels premature, the distance from the summer seems off. How can it have been so long? Looking back at his life, it feels like it lasted so much longer. It was so much more busy. James getting bigger, learning new things, even his appearance, always evolving and changing. Time seemed more active, more important. The time since lacks that sense of urgency, events blend into a static haze of things rather than a progression. That's not to say nothing has happened. A lot has, both to us and the world. I've done work I'm proud of, Kara has been in school almost an entire school year. James' fund continues to grow. We had Jamie the giraffe. But somehow it doesn't feel like any of it took a long time. The emotional resonance of the time when James was here relative to the time since is not the same. The joys and frustrations of parenthood were replaced with something grimmer and more static. The permutations of grief are many, but none of them are joyful. They're all shades of the same sadness. So time feels flat, soaked up by the monotony.
Absence tempers the joy of a spring day and dims the bright sun. It saps the flavor out of life just when you ought to savor it. So it seems hard to believe we're coming into a spring without James. I haven't been to the arboretum once since he died. I probably let the membership lapse. No tulips this year. Still, things can and do get better. The bluebonnet fields are beautiful, and that beauty doesn't have to be defined by an absence. It can just be. There are a lot of things like that. When I try to look at things as they are rather than what they should be I find it improves my perspective. Looking at things as they are leaves me with memories of James that enhance an experience- "Remember when James did x" rather than detract from it "This would be so much better if James were here." It's not a perfect answer and no perfect answers exist. I'm just trying to muddle through the least of the bad ones.
Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.