Fall came and went, and I still have those unopened bags of bulbs neatly stored on my garage shelf. Throughout the winter I have walked daily past the bags and mourned this lost opportunity.
A few days ago, Louisa went hunting for signs of spring. As she hunted she found leaves beginning to bud and rosebushes losing their brown in favor of a green glow. She found an early-blooming daffodil - one among a clump that found more sunlight than the flowers surrounding it. Louisa relished in these details and would run to the open window where I was inside washing dishes to recount her discoveries.
Then it was quiet. Too quiet. And as a protective mom of an energetic 6-year old, I ran out to find Louisa - to ensure she was safe and happy.
I rounded the corner and saw her - eyes fixed on a small, lone purple bloom. I said, "Louisa, have you found a sign of Spring?" She replied, "Mom. This is more than a sign of spring; this is a sign from heaven!"
In October of 1998, at the memorial service for our daughter Eliza, my brother Jess carefully packaged crocus bulbs to give to those who attended her Farewell Service. Jess, in his perceptive sensitivity, hoped that each grouping of flowers would then be carefully placed and planted in gardens. That each year, when the flowers emerged from the seemingly dormant ground, we would remember the promise of an eternal spring - even a rebirth and reunion with precious family members.
After the Farewell and burial, Steve and I returned to Chicago, with memories and hope for a brighter future to sustain us through a dark winter.
Before that winter hit, together, we found a place of peace - a hidden garden with rich soil - within the Morton Arboretum where we planted our small packet of sweet flowers.
During our season of mourning, I received a gift from a dear friend, Heidi. A book she knew that I would not have the opportunity to read to Eliza, yet a gift that nonetheless gave me comfort as I read it. I found solace in reading this story aloud, just as I would have done were my daughter still in my arms.
This book starts, "Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away." The mother bunny tells her little bunny that if he runs away, she will run after him and find him. He imagines running away and disguising himself in all sorts of landscapes, including inside a crocus in a garden. No matter how imaginative his hiding place, his mother always finds him.
As I read, this line from the book spoke to my heart: “If you become a crocus in a hidden garden,” said his mother, “I will be a gardener. And I will find you.” (from The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown)
Crocus blooms remind our family that there will be a time when we will all be together again. And amazingly, though this fall I failed to plant the layers of blossoms planned, God found a way to speak to the heart of a little girl searching for signs of spring - even an Eternal Spring.
Much of our sadness regarding Eliza has turned to sweetness as years have passed. But for those of you for whose hearts are hurting currently, we share this quote:
"Parents who have surrendered the sweetest and smallest flowers from the family's garden need to remember our loving Heavenly Father. He has promised a special reward to those who now suffer in silence, who spend long days and longer nights through their trying times of bereavement. Our Creator has promised glory. He said, "For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand." (D&C 58:4)
"That promised glory includes the blessing of reunion with each little child who has left the family circle early to help surviving members of the family to draw nearer to God. Those little children still live and are a heritage of the Lord."