A Garden Path

Garden path

Building a Garden Path

Our home sits at the top of a long sloping hill. In front of the house is a steep area. The previous owners put down weed block and covered the hill in lavender. It's beautiful, but I don't like weed block. It's almost impossible to navigate. It suffocates the soil and doesn't allow the natural flow of nutrients. It also means anything in the way of wood chips ends up at the bottom of the hill.

Last year I decided it needed to change. My mom and I spent several days pulling the weed block from the first half of the hill. Then my adult son, Jason, got into trouble and came to live with us.

One of his tasks was to create a garden path on the hillside. He worked each morning on the hill and then moved on to other things when he got too hot. It slowly started to take shape.

Mh2>The Path Diverges

On July 24th, Jason took his own life. Our wedding date was August 21st. In his final letter, Jason asked that we proceed with our wedding. "If there were two people meant to be together better than the two of you, I couldn’t imagine their bond being any greater."

Tom's children had already purchased airline tickets from Wisconsin. They were planning a family vacation for our wedding. If that had not been the case, I'm not sure I could have proceeded. But there was no turning back. As hard as it was, I pushed forward.

At first, I was almost manic in my preparations. I had a vision of how the yard and garden should look for our wedding. I put all my grief into that vision. I ran myself to exhaustion each day.

I planned to use the pathway for walking up to my future husband. But it wasn't finished. The first day I stepped out to work on the hillside, I felt like I was invading Jason's space. But I tentatively went to work. I finished supporting the pathway with rocks. I planted flowers, hens and chickens, and sedums between the lavender. I spread wood chips on the hillside and along the pathway. It started to look like my vision.

We had lots of projects going since it was our first summer in our new home. I finally realized I couldn't do everything. I started to run out of time and energy. It was painful to consider I couldn't have everything I wanted or needed for the wedding. In truth, all the work I could do wouldn't bring back my son to share in our special moment. I moved into clean-up and final preparation mode.

The Path Matures

This week, I noted a Rudbeckia standing along that path. It was one of the flowers I had planted last summer. We call these the "Grandma flower" in honor of my maternal grandmother. And, honestly, because I can never remember the name of the flower. They were one of my grandmother's favorite flowers. After she had died, my mom had a flourishing of these flowers in her garden. I took starts and planted them along that pathway.

Looking at them this morning took me back to all those emotions of last summer. I could feel again, the angst, the emptiness, the grief.

It's getting easier. The grief isn't as overwhelming - it's no longer a crushing weight on my being. It's occasional tears. It's a slightly hollow feeling underneath the laughter when we tell a story about the antics my son might pull. It's plain missing him at times.

He chose a different direction for his path. I have the path he built us. And, I have the memories.

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