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Like a room filled with seasoned quilters, their needles keeping time with their stories, messes of tree sparrows sputter, peep, and shrill skirting the budding branches of the mature verbena shrub in front of us. Around its base, clusters of daffodil blades promise splashes of yellow. I’m perched upon a guardrail along the asphalt path, my chest heaving, while my caregiver keeps an eye on me. Despite the difficulty of these short walks, my diseased lungs benefit from the stretching.

Then, it’s time to start moving again. With my caregiver steadying my left forearm, my cane in my right hand, we walk in tandem along the road in my neighborhood. Above us, the Delph blue sky exalts with clarity, while sunrays toast our backs. Yards have been scraped of winter’s indiscriminate trashing, flowerbeds cleared for blooming. Mindful of gumballs or other tree debris, I focus upon taking the next step; when a clean space opens before me, I latch onto the curving line of the asphalt that helps maintains my balance. My caregiver senses when a pause is critical. The air chills my cheeks as I rest.

Aside from participating in the greening world humming with new color, I also appreciate meeting dog walkers, joggers, or others out for a stroll. In this venue, there’s no place for discord. Masks cannot conceal heart-smiles.

It s precisely heart-smiles that evidence our blooming, whatever the season.

Plants and Flowers: Narcissus buds

She prays.

Slowly, her veined hand moves across his sunken chest. No longer is there a heartbeat. He is gone. Unfathomable peace suffuses his shriveled remains. Within that sacred moment she rests—fulfilled are her vows of almost seven years, pronounced that festive afternoon in their parish church where they had met at daily Mass, their snowy hair enhancing their flushed faces. Afterwards, merriment enlivened their white-tent reception filled with families and friends. It was all about love with its inherent sacrifices.

She prays.

Of little consequence, now, were his temper tantrums, rigid judgments, blaming—behaviors exacerbated by his Parkinson’s Dementia, three years into the marriage. Of little consequence was his frequent need in the middle of the night to pack his things in a pillowcase and go home. Of little consequence was his emptying the contents of the kitchen drawers into the refrigerator, of flooding the bathroom floor. Of little consequence was his violent reaction to placement in a skilled nursing facility, despite painstaking preparations. Now, he lives in eternal life and that’s all that matters.

She prays. Her eyes glisten.

Salted by keen suffering, she lives the mandate of Jesus Christ to be “the salt of the earth.”

Her name is Mary.

 

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