Ways of healing

Weeding at Tenryuji Temple By Gavin Anderson, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“A woman’s heart always breaks a little in the spring. But spring offers its own ways of healing. Hoe the row a little deeper. Kneel on the ground and dig the roots.”
Marjorie Holmes

Even when the heartbreak is more than just a little, spring does offer a degree of healing, however inadequate it may seem at the time. After fighting yet another flu-like illness for more than a week, I was dealing with the far more distressing madness of endless bureaucratic tangles related to all the aspects of Matt’s disability “benefits” that changed when Jeff died. When the sun came out on Saturday afternoon, I took a break and made some time to pull a few of the weeds that have taken over many of the flower beds in our York backyard.

My efforts didn’t produce any miraculous results, on either the yard or my psyche, but the combination of working with my hands while listening to an Alexander McCall Smith audiobook did at least provide me with a bit of relief from the noxious combination of sorrow, frustration, exhaustion and bewilderment. I know that as long as I’m able, I’ll keep kneeling on the ground and digging, waiting for a reprieve.

If you’re facing a phase of life that seems to keep smacking you down one way or another, no matter how often you try to get up, I hope you will hoe a little deeper and hang on. Spring will bring healing even as it clouds the skies and muddies the ground with rain. Heartbreak, it would seem, is an almost universal malady, but most of us do survive it. Spring is a pervasive reminder of that fact; both a comfort and a challenge.


  1. Good morning, Julia! Despite snow covering the ground here in Massachusetts, I was able to do some weeding last week in Florida. It was a bittersweet task, as my parents suddenly decided to move to a retirement community, and I went to help prepare their home of twenty years for sale. It may sound strange, but I was glad to be able to spend time saying goodbye to all of the flora I had planted over the years (even as I tripped over young banana trees growing in the stand I had started some years back). I transplanted a Norfolk Island Pine that had volunteered to grow in the middle of one of their shrubs (I hope they both recover from that hack-job! Whew!), tried new plants in the front, shady garden along their house (curb appeal, we hope), and added a few new flowers to the garden behind the caged pool (something to look at, aside from the tall wood fence). I added some stepping stones, too.
    I was able to say goodbye to other items that I had planted over the years: a rose bush, moss roses, plumeria, jasmine, bird of paradise and the mango tree, and water the new plumeria, geranium, and moss rose garden that mom had made, which will make a nice border between their side yard and the street, giving a little more privacy.
    It was very therapeutic for me.

    • That doesn’t sound strange at all to me. Jeff and I often felt that way when we left a home we had loved for 3-5 years; it was always surprising to see how much the things we planted had grown in even that short time, and of course, it is what we nurture that we love and miss the most. I hope the Norfolk Pine survives. It sounds as if you did some lovely work for them and I know they must have appreciated it. WOW, you had quite a few plantings to your credit. Is what you call “moss rose” the same thing as Portulaca? I love that flower and it is so heat and drought tolerant. The flowers are bright and colorful at a time of year when others are fading. Hmmm, we’ll have to plan some botanical adventures next time you are in my neck of the woods! 😀 Hope your parents are very happy in their new home.

  2. Susan

    Julia, may you find much comfort and healing this Spring. You are much like the spring bulbs pushing their way through the frozen earth to boom and shine. May you continue to find support and encouragement from family, friends and our God.

    • Thank you, Susan. I would love to think of myself as sharing those traits with the lovely blooms of springtime. The bulb flowers are among my very favorites. This morning my York back yard surprised me with its spring loveliness. I’ll try to post a photo soon.

  3. Aww! I’m sorry to hear you haven’t been feeling well. Speaking of Spring, I shared a Spring poem over at my WordPress blog (you can click on my avatar to get there) that you might enjoy.

    • Jena, thanks for this hint…I am getting to this so late that I was afraid I might not find the poem, but I went by the date (and had to scroll past several other intriguing National Poetry Month posts to get to it…immediately making a mental note to go back soon!!!) and loved the poem about Grass. As with all really great poems, it saves the best for last and closes with real impact. I’m glad you mentioned the goose, too. I wouldn’t necessarily have noticed it much if you had not, but it does add to the text, and for me is an echo of the idea of parting. Thanks again for giving me a poem to enjoy before bedtime. 🙂

  4. Cherie

    Julie, sweet sister, I pray your Spring will blossom with an abundance of beauty! I love you! Love and Light! Cherie

    • Thank you, Cherie. Keep sending that love and light — it really does brighten my life! Love and hugs to you too.

  5. MaryAnn Clontz

    Showing us yet another way to rise above! Thank you for sharing your life journey with your blog “family”. You are an inspiration today to many. I love you!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thank you, Mary Ann, for being such a continual source of encouragement for me. I love you too!

  6. Harry Sims

    I want to tell you what a joy it is to be with such an honest, sincere and devoted person who is on the cusp of defeating despair.
    Just a little reminder from the wisdom of the ages:
    It is no secret what God can do
    what he’s done for others, it will do for you.

    • Thank you Harry. I especially need those words tonight, so I suppose it’s providential that it took me 11 days to get around to reading them! Blessings to you this Easter.

  7. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. ☕ Little did we know Saturday afternoon that we were doing the same thing, pulling weeds. ⛺️🏕 We have a small (very small) flower bed with a barrel of seasonal color in it! It requires so little effort to maintain and I may be the only one to notice my efforts but it still made me feel good. I’d never really thought about pulling weeds requires kneeling. I’ll remember that! It sounds like you’ve been in overload of MISERY. I’m so sorry and hope by now you’re on the mend. We’re on a beautiful April VERANDAH so I’m wishing you and Matt a beautiful Spring and many newfound blessings. 🌸🌷🌺🌼🌹 Love, Sheila

    • Sheila, I was out pulling weeds tonight until it was too dark to see them. The overload of misery continues, but I didn’t want to contaminate the comments section with the sad details, so I just sent you a private email. Thanks for being here, my faithful friend! ❤

  8. Yes, we survive . . . and may even go on to thrive . . . in summer.

    • Timi, I am clinging to ever dwindling shreds of hope that I will reach that season! Thanks for letting me see your smiling face here tonight. It’s always a joy.

  9. Amy

    I too find it helpful to weed a bit IF the weeds are ones that pull out fairly easy and I can make a fair bit of progress. If they are stubborn and unyeilding then I tend to fall back on my, “I hate yard work” attitude. An attitude which I find seems to be the norm a LOT here in the red clay dirt of NOVA. But I find I can dust inside a little and that will often have the same effect to soothe the ache of worry for a time (as long as the sun doesn’t shine in a window) with much the same effect as pulling weeds or hoeing a row. I am praying for you always. I love you.

    • Thank you, Amy. Love you too!

  10. So beautifully said, Julia. xo

    • Thank you, Alys. ❤

  11. Healing, Why must it take it’s time? Why can’t relief from the pain arrive to sooth your broken heart, even just a little bit. As I said many times this week, it’s just not fair. Maybe it’s the steep price of knowing one true and everylasting love. Being blessed in that regard, doesn’t make it easier to live with despair. But it will, in time, provide moments of happiness, this I know for sure. Those days will find you Julia, when you’re ready. xo K

    • Aw, thank you K. You’re right, and I often remind myself, that I was lucky to have Jeff, even if he was taken away from me too soon. The other night I was prowling around clearing out some old stuff, and came across the last anniversary card Jeff gave me, in June 2016 (he was one who never, ever missed an anniversary or birthday…I was the one who forgot!) I was struck by the fact that his closing words were “Till death do us part” and I realize that he understood he was unlikely to live even another year. But he stayed positive and strong, and so I try to channel that myself, though I don’t do a very good job of it. I do think healing from losing him would come more easily if there were not so many other crises hitting us right now.

  12. Mike

    “Heartbreak as a universal human malady,” rings true this week for me. Got word yesterday that one of my son’s crewmen from Marietta fire was killed in a tragic accident yesterday while on vacation in L.A. Two other firefighers were injured-one seriously and is still in the hospital. He was 23 ,single , and a four year veteran of the Marietta department. So tragic and the end result of a drunk driver. Prayers for his family and the department.
    We leave tomorrow for Atlanta.

    • Oh Mike, I am so sorry. I pray for healing for the two injured firefighers, and also for the loved ones of the man who died in an accident that should never have happened. A drunk driver nearly killed my mother and three siblings who were on their way to pick me up from day camp when I was 8 years old. Though everyone recovered, it changed all our lives and left scars on all of us, some visible and some not. I hope you have enjoyed your time in Atlanta. I am glad you were able to be there for your son during this sad time.

  13. Wow, thank you for sharing this. I do feel like lately I have been in that “phase of life that seems to keep smacking you down one way or another” and boy does it feel like I cannot catch a break. I am hopeful though, that things will turn around.

    I think healing is indeed about time and reflecting back. I have been trying hard to stay positive.

    • Thanks so much for visiting! I enjoyed your blog and was delighted to find a recipe for how to make cha in “authentic” fashion – I am a tea lover and the spicy sort is my favorite kind. Someday I hope to be able to enjoy some real Indian cha in India – but for now, your recipe is a much closer possibility for me. I also enjoyed your photos of the flowers and your lovely German Shepherd. Like you I am frugal and I love that so much wealth is freely available on WordPress. Thanks again for dropping by– I hope you will visit often!

      • Thank you for the kind words, much appreciated. Hey, we have lots in common, that’s awesome! Have a lovely day! -Sunny

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