Transience

by Jenni

This place continues to teach me. We’ve had quite the show this past month as one by one, the plants dance joyously into spring.

From the brown-gray winter landscape, each emerging blade of green and flowering petal has been like a victory song of new life.

Daffodils in a dozen varieties encircle the house in a golden ring of sunshine. Round tulips bob their crimson heads in the breeze. Lilacs I’ve awaited since we moved here in July spritz the air with lavish purply perfume; their scent sparks a memory of a grade school field trip when I smelled these flowers for the very first time. I carry my baby into the sunlight, let him reach out. “Flower,” I say as his tiny hand grasps at the delicate color. I wonder if he likes the fragrance as much as I do.

What delights me with beauty one day, though, is fading the next. It’s startling how quickly it happens.

The daffodils and tulips are all gone now, papery brown membranes droop from the green stalk. My purple lilacs have shriveled, the slower white ones take their place. A strong wind scattered the petals from the fruit trees weeks ago, a pink and white snowfall on a hot afternoon. Seth and I take turns, unintentionally, reporting the latest casualty: “Did you notice the Bleeding Heart is fading already?”

Who planted the big apricot tree that shades my porch? Was it fifty or eighty years ago? Does anyone remember his or her name?

I am reminded that life is transient. The most precious moments in time pass by too quickly. But I do not want to waste it. Although it fades fast, I want the richness of this time, this moment, to last long into the future. How do I hold on to the sweetness if I cannot slow the clock? How do I secure a guarantee against regrets for what will too soon be remembered or forgotten?

The only answer I know is to savor. There are so many ways to savor.

I walk among the flowers with my little one. I take pictures. I look up from the manuscript for a moment to watch birds outside my office window. I gather armloads of lilacs with a friend and send her home with most of them. I bring them into my home, gracing every room. I kiss my baby’s velvety head for the umpteenth time today and watch him sleep. I hold my husband’s hand when while he asks the blessing at the table. I breathe deeply and commit to memory the scent of my family’s spring.

None of this prevents the passing of time. The flower still withers and fades. But, it does prevent regret because when I look back I will know that I didn’t take it for granted, I celebrated the gift, I realized my fortune and gave thanks for it, and shared it, and delighted in it.

As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. Psalm 103:15-16

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