Lilacs and lily-of-the-valley have always been two of my favorite flowers. I don’t typically like strong fragrances, but these two flowers are what I think heaven smells like, and I need heaven right now, because I miss my mom so much I can’t even think about how much it hurts. I can remember her laugh, but kind of not, and I can remember her love for all people, but I don’t remember what her real voice sounded like, only what her hospital voice sounded like all raspy from being on a respirator and then having a feeding tube scratch up her throat. I want to be able to hear her singing “His Eye is on the Sparrow” or “Amazing Grace” or “Lily of the Valley,” which is why I love those little flowers so much. I am grateful that I can remember when I was really little playing outside of our old house with her and the smell of the lilacs permeated the air, and I remember the way she helped me cut some to bring into the kitchen, so we could have them on the small table when my dad got home for dinner. I am so grateful for the lilac bush that grows in front of my house, because the smell comes in my front door and reminds me of who I am and where I come from, and the sweet aroma makes the small, dull ache in my chest go away for a minute.
I am grateful for incredibly smart students who teach me things. My parents taught me to approach every person and every situation with curiosity and inquiry. I also learned that from some of my best professors in college, seminary, and graduate school; if you enter into an interaction with an open mind, you will learn from those around you. I am grateful for being encouraged to live my life in this way, because if I hadn’t lived this way, I’d have missed some real opportunities for growth.
I am grateful for coffee. Coffee wakes me up, gives me life every morning, and brings me happiness. I have nothing more profound to say about it, but I am so grateful for that delicious dark brown bean juice in my cup every morning.
I love you so very much. I am so sorry that I can’t be by your side as you process, but perhaps everything happens.
I love you too, and you are by my side, just not physically here.