Mourning is defined by Merriam-Webster as the act of sorrowing. An outward sign of grief for a person’s death. We know that nothing is forever, but when our lives are touched by this thing called mourning, the garden can become the healer. Life is temporary. Like seasons in the garden, mourning happens as the season’s change. In order to survive, we learn to adapt as well as adjust to the new normal. Yet, in the same garden where we mourn a loss, we can also find emotional healing.
Losing family is hard. This is one thing I have realized. As I get older the reality of life, as well as its brevity, is real. My brother-in-law, Michael Hollis, has joined our ancestors. My sister did not expect this turn of events on the last Sunday in April. As a way to comfort her, in the midst of her grief and mourning, I suggested that she go into the garden.
The garden is a healer. Peace, calm, as well as the aura of reflection, remembering can be found in the garden. Flowers often reflect emotions of the day, the moment, and most often of life in general. As I thought about Mike, several things came to mind.
Initially, I was going to share what flowers I would use in a bouquet of mourning. However, as I realized Mike would no longer be present on this earth, his spirit can live on in flowers. Allow me to share what I would include in my perennial garden to celebrate my brother-in-law, affectionately called Mike.
DEFINING MIKE IN FLOWERS
Myosotis would be a necessity. Without encouragement, it would be allowed to bloom and spread just like Mike’s love for family. Myosotis is commonly known as Forget-Me-Not. A reliable biennial that quietly shows up along the way. That was Mike. Mike would quietly saunter into the room, observe his surroundings, and offer to pitch in as necessary. As he greeted everyone, you knew the jokes were about to start and laughter would fill the room. Mike loved everyone and particularly his family – Candy, Michael Jr., and Kia. His love and his personality is one that we will NOT forget.
Iberis Sempervirens would also be a part of this garden. Commonly known as Candytuft, Mike did not require a lot of fanfare. We always knew he was there, quietly making sure my sister was loved and cared for. Iberis does not need a lot of attention. Planted in the proper soil and a little sun, this perennial proves to be reliable each and every year.
Kniphofia is always the life of the garden party. I remember Mike dancing at the parties we attended at the University of Maryland. Standing out on the dancefloor, swerving to the beat, he was so full of life as his Fraternity brothers, Phi Beta Sigma, embraced his antics. Kniphofia is the life of the summer garden. Making a long blooming statement from top to bottom, the common name is Red hot poker. One could say Mike will be an eternal bloom in our familial garden.
Epimedium leaves spread slowly filling empty space in the garden. At family gatherings, Mike would start up a conversation about his experiences as a Corrections Officer. His jokes and sometimes tales to share how Blessed he was, would fill the after-dinner silence. Mike shared bizarre tales that were hilarious and sometimes quite sad.
I remember after divorce, I pondered how to make ends as a single Mom. Mike recommended I apply for a job in his field. I got as far as receiving the application, as I knew that was not for me. I am willing to bet, had I pursued it, Mike would have been there to encourage me.
Anyone who would listen to Mike’s advice was encouraged to be a Corrections Officer. The leaves of the commonly known plant called Barrenwort covers the good and the bad in the semi-shade garden. Mike was our Epimedium.
Gonna miss you, Mike. As I mourn your presence in our lives, we are better for knowing you. The garden will be a healer for my sister in the midst of deep sadness. Gardens are the perfect place to mourn as well as a place to reflect all the memories left behind.
Remembering Mike, in my own special way….
Teri, Cottage In The Courtby