I quit watering them when life went dark.
It was more than I could handle in the middle of a life unraveled. I walked around the big empty house and drank too much; felt sorry for myself, went on regrettable dates with people completely unsuited to me, turned the music up loud when the pain got too unbearable.
I’d go down the front steps and look at the containers that should have been overflowing with flowers. The dried up husks of the snapdragons seemed infinitely better than an artificially cheery bouquet. I busied myself in my work and ignored the yard. Inside the house, I sanded the floors, choking on great quantities of poison-laden dust. I painted over the bright yellow walls with soft earth tones that felt somehow more honest, more real. And every day, the snapdragons seemed to wither a little more.
Spring collapsed into summer and summer into fall. The trees began to turn and the air grew cooler. The afternoon shadows were darker than I remembered and the nights colder than the temperature promised. And each day through the winter those snapdragons just sat. Weeds had sprouted in the containers, green against the shriveled stalks of broken promises. I let them grow.
Nature was unmoved by my self-pity. The winter rains came and what I couldn’t do, or wouldn’t do, it did without my help. One cold winter day, I noted the snapdragons were green.
By then, I had hardly even noticed that I had learned to breathe again on my own. The soundtrack had changed too—the dark and furious chords of Wagner and Pearl Jam had faded into Tony Bennett and the Beatles.
Life wasn’t merely death delayed after all. My dog’s muzzle was still soft and warm and her yellow lupine eyes still gazed at me with love. A new relationship put the old into perspective. Winter gave way to spring. A year-long Lent became Easter.
The snapdragons bloomed. And I had nothing to do with it. It was grace, pure and simple. It was resurrection. It was music and dance. It was flowers and springtime and hope.