Planting for Spring

What a temporary beautiful life they lead.

Flowers on the deckWhile Dorothy and I planted our spring flowers, we were talking about how short lived the beauty they give us is.  We knew that the dozens of plants we planted over the weekend would take root, blossom, grow, spread out a little, give off their beauty for people to enjoy, enhance the beauty and enjoyment of our home, and then wither and die in late fall – all in a matter of months.   But the beauty they provided during the time they are alive is well worth the effort of planting them, weeding, watering, and pruning.  All the time knowing that they are doomed during the cold weather, and the cycle of planting and withering is to be repeated next year, and the year after that and so on.  But this is what you expect.

Flowers on the deckBut this year was different.  Usually Dorothy plants with the kids and her mom.  I generally like to watch from the deck, iced tea in hand.  And it is hard work.  There is no one to refill my iced tea so I have to keep getting up from my lounge chair and going inside to refill it myself while my family relaxes and enjoys bonding with each other and bonding with mother earth.  But this year we did it alone – Dorothy and I.  It was very nice, we talked about what flowers Andrew liked, what flowers Nicole enjoys; and how this summer will be different – so different than any other summer before.

It is just the three of us now.  Andrew should have come home a couple of weeks ago.  He should have graduated with all of his friends.  We should have been proud parents watching him walking down the aisle with that amazing smile that he had on when he graduated high school.  Pictures, dinners, hand shakes, and happiness.  He should be going to parties and headed off for some well earned vacation with his friends. But none of that is happening.  He should have called Dorothy for mother’s day, we should have be happily packing him up to come home to start the next chapter of his life.

But our plant is gone.  The plant that we nourished, cared for, loved, and encouraged has been ripped from our hearts and our lives.  When we plant annuals, we know they will die, we know they have a short life span – that is what we sign up for when we get them.  But when we plant our perennials, we expect them to live, and to blossom and grow year after year – just like our children. And when that does not happen it is devastating.

Andrew's Fire Pit and GardenLast summer, Andrew and i purchased a fire pit and set it up on the deck.  As I mentioned in earlier posts Andrew and I had many fires there over this past summer.  We talked for hours at night about school, about life, about hockey, about almost everything.  It was the most amazing summer I had with my son in a long time.  College really turned him into a mensch, and a person who I could talk to so much easier.  He knew our time together was limited and he would soon be going back to Boulder, so he opened up much more this past summer.  He told me about his school teachers in the Psych department that he respected so much, how they were published and how he read their articles and stories and learned from them – and most of all admired them.  He found a goal and purpose in life and he was beaming with excitement to be able to graduate and become a therapist and help other people who had anxiety issues.  He was such a different person than who left leave our home three years ago and go to college.

DSC_0298The fire pit is still there, and will always be there.  It is known as Andrew’s fire pit. The two chairs Andrew and I sat on last summer are still there, facing each other, almost always empty.  I bought several planters and planted different colored Marigolds next to the pit, it is Andrew’s garden.  The Marigolds where Andrew’s favorite flower.  I never planted flowers before, but I needed to this year, and probably for many years to come.  I needed to do something for my son.

I sit there now, alone, looking at the flowers and the empty chair, recalling what we talked about.  It brings a smile to my face knowing how happy he was, and a tear to my eye knowing none of those dreams will ever be fulfilled. How he found his place in life finally, and how he was excited to have such a strong direction in life.  I sit and look at the flowers, and I know they will all be dead in a few months.  No matter how much I nourish them, no matter how much I care for them and no matter what I do, they will be gone in a few months.  It is such a vicious, heart wrenching cycle.


9 thoughts on “Planting for Spring

  1. Janie

    I read everything you write, Perry, and love the depth and expression of your thoughts. Love and prayers to you and Dorothy and Nicole. xx

    1. Kimberly Martelli

      Just reading these for the first time, mourning the 6 years ago loss of my younger brother, Eric John Tutera. Feeling especially pained this year. Desperate for support. Desperate to escape….or rather to hold Eric, to hear him, too feel his presence. I’m exhausted with sadness. Please let this darkness pass and being me sunshine and the sounds of his laughter. I’m begging for some relief from this bleeding wound.

  2. Greg

    Mensch is a perfect way to describe him. Like all of us, he matured a lot in college and truly became a man. Although he was younger then me, I still learned a lot from Andrew and there is no day that goes by that I don’t think about that. Although Andrew won’t come back next year, or the year after that, he is always in our hearts and that will never go away! Love you buddy – see you soon.

  3. Susan Wallace

    Perry, that was such a moving tribute … Throughout, as I read, I could feel the struggle and the pain you are experiencing. Obviously not in the same way at all, that is not what I mean. You were able to beautifully express your emotions in such a way that I was touched so deeply. The comparison to Andrew’s life and the short-lived life of flowers will make me look differently at my garden, and of course, my children. We attended my daughter’s graduation last week- her Masters degree, and just took it for granted. Nick even said,”How many graduations do I have to go to for her?” when we first learned of the date. We just laughed. Kristy’s graduation was expected… Just as was Andrew’s. Now I realize that expecting things doesn’t mean they will happen. Taking things for granted – that’s a habit… What you, Dorothy and Nicole are experiencing is something one can never be prepared for. Your family is never far from my thoughts. Especially these days. I thought of Dorothy on Mother’s Day, I have been thinking about the fact that Andrew won’t be here this summer- maybe that’s why Nick has been very agitated these days… The guys are coming home, but he never anticipated anyone’s return as much as his best friend’s… He doesn’t talk to me about these things, but sometimes I can just tell what he’s thinking… You’re right – they should all be experiencing an extraordinary summer of celebration. Sadly, they won’t be. Each time Andrew would return home from school- for breaks or summer- Nick was truly happy. So often I would go past the door and hear the sound of belly-splitting laughter and realize: Andrew is home… I miss that… Funny how neither of them used their real names- it was always Grosser and Wally… Lol! “I’m going to hang out with Grosser…” I miss those words. Nick talks about “getting out of here” more frequently than ever. He feels the absence of Andrew… I’m sorry, Perry, I’m rambling… Just know that your family is in our hearts, thoughts and prayers… Here when you need us, ready for dinner when you are… God bless you for writing these posts and having a way to channel your thoughts. Stray as strong as you possibly can. There’s nothing more I can say.

  4. kara gumnic

    I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I’m sorry you have to face this new pain of Andrew not coming home this summer. His life really was like the life of a flower. He was such a beautiful person who shared his beauty with so many others, even though for a short time.

  5. Mom

    Perry, I read everything you write and although I can’t imagine how you and Dorothy feel, I do know, when I try to reply, the tears in my eyes are not letting me see the letters on the screen. When I think about Andrew, I think about you loosing Dad when you were just sixteen and now Andrew when he was only twenty one. The only way I can get through the day is not think about my family I lost much too early.
    I wish I could do something for you and Dorothy and Nicole that would ease your pain but right now that is impossible. I am at a loss for words to express my thoughts that are going on in my head. Maybe one day, that day will come.
    Please take care of yourself even though it seems harder and harder as the days go by but I know you will do it.
    I love you my family and miss Andrew with all of my heart. Mom

  6. joanne

    Perry, This year of firsts is the worst emotiinally. Time does not heal all wounds as we have been told. But, with time, going through the motions of life becomes more manageable. The pain never goes away. Everything in life is just different; how we see things and how we react to everyday incidents. Your journal exemplifies just that. I hope it helps you as much as it impacts all of us who read it. Hugs to you, Dorothy and Niciole

  7. Sally

    Very moving words, Perry,

    I heard something very encouraging on one of the Healing After Loss CD’s I borrowed from the library that may provide you with some comfort as well: “Our relationship with our Loved One is not over, it is just different. They are still there with us.”

    Perry, if you feel the spirit of Andrew around you, then you know in your heart this is true.

  8. lucy

    I too am looking at an empty chair on the day that should have been our 57th anniversary. So I got out my wedding book and am reliving happy times, the beginning of a most wonderful marriage. Losing a child is different because they leave too early and I sympathize with your loss.


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