This time of year in the land without true seasons, Texas is a slur between spring and summer. Days start dipping into the 90’s and the air is a thick slug of humidity from the thunderstorms and rain that linger from spring. The bluebonnets are long gone, but they’re replaced by wild sunflowers that grow everywhere.
Two years ago, I was driving around with Tim to the hill country. He had rented a cabin outside of Fredericksburg for us as my Valentine’s gift that year. A little time for us to get away, relax and enjoy the company of each other off the grid of our stressful lives in Austin. That was the intention.
Of course we spent a lot of that weekend cowering in the shadow of his addiction. He had almost fatally overdosed a week prior. Our hill country getaway became a time of reflection, talking through things and me watching his every twitch to try and fend off a darkness that was heading our way. It was our last weekend together. The last pictures taken. The last of almost everything.
I wish I could say that weekend was filled with lightness and hope. In some ways it was. We laughed and giggled together like we did in our 20’s, delving into a silliness that I could only ever get to when Tim was around. There were also moments of loneliness and lying that I thought would destroy me, but it was only a tiny prelude of what was to come. When I force myself to think about those moments, I feel a little sick to my stomach.
On the drive home I thought the worst was behind us, and rolling towards home on the sunny Sunday afternoon I was willing to be ignorant about the future. Wildflowers grew on the sides of the road, and the sky was bright and open to us.
“I like sunflowers,” Tim told me out of no where. He stared away from me out the car window, on some kind of thought train that I could follow.
That’s why I had my friends collect sunflowers for his memorial less than two weeks later. In nine years he had never told me any kind of flower preference, and why would he? Orange roses were my favorite, which he knew but the sunflowers declaration was new.
So now we are in 2017, almost two years later. Milestones have passed, and more milestones are heading my way. Spring is a revolver for my grief, each dark memory clicks as we tick to the next one. Through this, I see wild sunflowers everywhere.
I see them growing along the side of the road when I drive across Austin.
I see them growing in the corner of the big field behind my barn, the one I let Simon gallop through when we both need to focus on an exercise without boundaries.
I see them growing through cracks of the concrete in the parking lot outside the bookstore where I did my first reading, telling a room full of strangers that I’m still in love with the ghost of my dead husband. That I look for him everywhere.
And it’s probably the heavy rain we’ve had, that’s made these wild flowers pop up everywhere I go. It’s probably a dense year for flowers of any kind, and sunflowers are probably easy to grow. Assuredly, it’s nothing more than a random act of nature.
But every time I see them, I think of him.