We had just moved into our cape cod home, a house I’d admired long before we bought it. It sat on a triple lot in town surrounded on three sides by a sculpted hedge. Its wide porch sported a trellis on one side with the promise of climbing roses in summer. I couldn’t wait for spring when the daffodils, tulips, and crocuses would emerge from their bulbs and brighten the walkway.
That year promised an early spring, the weather had been unusually warm in February, and I could already see sprouts peeking up through the soil. A purple crocus on March 5 made my day. When my son, who was in Kindergarten, came home that day, I just had to share spring with him and his baby sister. We walked around the property looking for other signs of life. I heard the phone ringing in the house, but I let it go. What could be important? Whatever. It could wait.
Around suppertime the phone rang again. It was my father with the news that my oldest brother had suffered a heart attack. He was in the hospital. It didn’t look good, my father said, but wait till morning. Let the babies sleep in their own beds tonight.
It was cold and damp when we set out. Low clouds thick with snow appeared on the horizon. We packed the two kids into the car and began the two and a half hour drive. We were about an hour into the trip when the snow started– just a few flakes at first, then more, then a blizzard. We crawled behind a snow plow for a while. Then, when we ventured off the main road, a salt truck appeared. Our normally quick and easy drive took nearly four hours.
We were too late.
On his grave my sisters and I planted crocuses. They are often covered in snow when I visit in March, but the color bursts through anyway–a reminder that as Camus once wrote, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”