|WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,|
|And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,|
|I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.|
|O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;|
|Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west,||5|
|And thought of him I love|
Whitman writes about lilacs and honoring a president.
And I write (far less eloquently, and with more all-caps and fewer exclamation points) about magnolia trees and missing my baby girl.
As I've mentioned before, late snows last year prevented our magnolia tree from blooming. When we had a tree planted in Forest Park in memory of Eliza, it turned out by chance to be a saucer magnolia--the very same tree that is decked with pink blossoms each spring in our own front yard. I'll always think of these as Eliza's trees, but I was incredibly touched to get an e-mail from a friend saying that she thinks of them that way, too.
She wrote in her e-mail:
I was walking with Mason yesterday and noticed this tree. The pink and white cherry blossoms always come out in time for Valentine’s day here in the bay area, which I think is nice. But none are as stunning as what I now know is a saucer magnolia.
Just thought you’d like to see that Eliza’s memory blooms in Berkeley, too.
And she included this picture.
I can think of no better gift for anyone who has lost a child, than to be reminded that her child's memory blooms in many places, that her baby is held in the heart of many people.
Whitman's poem tells us that every spring, lilacs and starlight remind him a great man whose death he mourns. For the rest of my life, I'll think of Eliza every time I see a saucer magnolia tree with its springtime blooms. And if those pink blossoms remind you, too, of our baby girl, then I thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping her memory alive. It means so much to us.
(And special thanks to Lindsey in Berkeley, for making me cry such happy tears.)