Twice this week, I have had an extraordinarily happy time doing something very ordinary. During those two times, I have remembered people who aren’t here any more, and felt closer to them. What was I doing that created this magic? I was gardening.
Earlier this week, my mum, my daughter and I dug in potatoes. As we did it, mum told me how her father had showed her how to do it, and she passed on his tips to me. I was only 11 when he died, and had very few vivid pictures of him. But as I watched mum digging, I remembered seeing my papa pushing a wheelbarrow round to his vegetable patch in Donegal, and walking with his tall staff round the lane to supervise a bonfire. Somehow, doing what he loved made him alive to me again.
Yesterday, we came home from my husband’s granny’s with a tray of tiny pansies. They had been sown in pots by his granda, who died last November, and were sitting waiting for someone to plant them out. As I put them in our flower bed today, I felt deeply sad that he wasn’t here to do it himself, but so privileged to be able to do it for him. Every time I pushed the soil around a little flower, it felt like such a joyful, right thing to do. And he too, felt closer.
We’ll never know, on this earth, how near we are to heaven and to those who are already there, but somehow, this week, in the garden, it came close.