Jesus talks to me when I'm in my garden.
And yesterday, I needed some talking to. I needed some whispers of hope, some reminders of truth, because my heart was dragging low as wet cilantro: my good friend had died the night before.
Cancer. Stage four. That's what the doctors said, a little more than a year ago. It was a punch to the gut for Amy's many friends, but especially for her husband and two children. Our worlds can change in a flash, a fact we usually ignore on purpose, eyes shut tight. But this time, there was no escaping the sudden shattering. We begged for a miracle and struggled when she kept getting sicker. Amy was wise and sweet, and best of all, she loved our babies. She was the one who always volunteered for extra shifts in the nursery, the one who kept coming to MOPS after her own kids were in school so she could rock the newborns. The smiles she gave those little ones glowed holy. Jesus himself couldn't have loved them more. And few things tender a mama's heart like someone loving their babies.
Just eight days ago, a party was thrown in Amy's driveway, a celebration of the best things - life and laughter and Mexican food. We gathered around our friend and said, "We love you. Thank you. See you soon."
But there were fewer days left than we imagined, and Saturday night, she shed her sick and failing body and went to live with Jesus. Her husband held her hand.
See you soon.
I find solace in dirt and growing things, and as I poured soil in the pots yesterday and turned out petunias and lobelia and basil, I thought about how long it's taken spring to arrive this year. The weariness of a winter-without-end grinds away hope. When it's still snowing in early May, it's hard to believe anything will be green again. But here we are, at the beginning of June, and while we are assuredly behind our normal schedule, things are green again. In fact, the shades of green outside my window right now are positively astounding - chartreuse, lime, kelly, blue-green, dark green, bright green, fern green, yellow-green. Spring didn't just arrive; it pounced, with all the joy and playfulness of a kitten. Winter is over. The new season is here.
He makes all things new.
So as I ripped apart roots of plants confined too long in plastic pots, I nodded. And when I settled those flowers in their new home, I watered them with my tears. Life here is messy and prone to thorns and decaying leaves and spades that don't stay where you set them down. Deer eat our hostas and mud cakes under our fingernails and our expectations are frequently left wanting something more.
But life is also filled with aching beauty, lilacs and salvia and chives blossoms that shed their skin on the tip of a green stalk and explode into furry fireworks. Even when we forget to water, flowers bloom and tomatoes grow and we find ourselves picking wild raspberries, juice staining our fingers, finding sweetness we did nothing to deserve.
Every day is a gift. And call me a fool, but I believe this is just the beginning. Death is not the end. Not for Zach's loved ones. Not for Amy's family. This world is broken, but it also sings hope. Because no matter how dark and long the winter, spring always comes.