The Daughter and the Dogwood

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After a long winter of staring out at bare branches, the dogwood tree in our front yard finally blossoms, seemingly overnight. One morning I draw back the curtains and see her coral petals pushing through their buds. The next afternoon, she stands, blossoms unfurled in the sunlight.

Another evening a few days later, I’m sitting on my couch and staring out the window at her, while I talk to my best friend on the phone. A heavy spring rain falls in violent sheets. The dogwood endures it, arms outstretched. Her petals hold steadfast, despite their fragile appearance.

The conversation with my best friend is hard, as though the words have been forming on my tongue for years. Words like,

When my mother died, I think I died too.

I don’t think I know how to be happy.

I am stuck in orbit.

When I say them aloud, it’s like a root canal with no anesthesia. I cry with the pain.

The rain and my tears let up around the same time, and I step outside to take a deep breath. The earth has that deep, spring rain smell. And the dogwood has her blooms, drenched and radiant in the after-storm glow.

These are the thin places I have known: the bedside of my mother’s death, and the signs of life that beckon me back into the land of the living.

The veil between worlds lifts like a curtain in the breeze, and I can see it all, the material and the spiritual, interconnected like blossoms and branches in the rain.

The thin place of watching my mother die has been a chasm around which I have orbited, and it’s true, I wonder if I know how to be happy. I wonder if I’ll ever fully feel alive again. If I’m capable of moving forward. If I am forever stuck in the liminal space where faith exists as a big question mark at the center of the darkness.

But for daughters in their orbits, the dogwood is a sign of the resurrection. Seasons change, and bare branches bloom again. I pray for a faith that holds on.

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Bethany Suckrow
I’m a writer and blogger at at bethanysuckrow.com, where I shares both prose and poetry on faith, grace, grief and hope. I am currently working on my first book, a memoir about losing my mother to cancer. My musician-husband, Matt, and I live in transition as we move our life from the Chicago suburbs to Nashville.
Bethany Suckrow
Bethany Suckrow

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