Beverly Beckham

With spring, a rebirth of hope

By Beverly Beckham
Globe Columnist / April 24, 2011

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In the beginning, when she first wrote to me, just after her daughter died, she was in a hole so deep that there was nothing but that hole. The sun. The sky. The flowers she loved to grow. Books. Poetry. Her husband, her other kids, her friends, the students she taught. They were out in the world still.

But she was not.

She was like a tap shut off for the winter, drained and empty. She had to be. Full up, she would have burst.

Without her daughter, without her daughter’s e-mails, the sound of her laugh, her stories, her energy and passions, her presence, her essence, the days were too bright, the nights too long, talk meaningless, all laughter like jagged glass that cut her raw.

Christmas. Easter. Mother’s Day. Summer. Winter. Birthdays. Graduations. It never ended. People were always celebrating.

It took all her energy just to breathe.

She wrote to me then about “a love that knew no bounds and a sorrow that knows no end.’’ She wrote about the “huge hole’’ in her life. She wrote about life and beauty and flowers and spring “often unrecognizable to me now . . . as if on the other side of some door.’’

She wrote and she grieved. “Who needs to survive another day of this?’’

Three and a half years later, she grieves still. Sorrow is a part of her, not like a virus that is dormant for a while and only occasionally flares. Her sorrow is chronic and painful and isolating and, at times, debilitating. But she lives with it.

She lives despite it.

She became a grandmother a month ago. In August she knew a baby was coming. It was the first time she recognized that there was beauty and joy still on the other side of that door.

“I am so afraid to go over the moon. But I think I am already there,’’ she wrote then.

Watching her return to the world, and I watched this only in print, only through her e-mails, was like watching spring arrive, like witnessing a miracle.

It wasn’t without its stops and starts. Rebirth is a slow, long, tough process. The snow melts but more snow falls. A good day is followed by a bad. The temperature soars, then plummets. “What was welled up still breaks me on a dull Sunday now,’’ she wrote in the winter.

But life trumps death always. Spring proves it. In spring, rebirth is endemic. A tree that looks like driftwood blooms. The ground grows a million shades of green. Pinks and purples and yellows appear out of nowhere and are everywhere. Baby birds will soon be at the feeders and baby squirrels and baby groundhogs, too.

And this spring, there’s a new baby, a first grandchild, in my friend’s arms.

She has been resurrected. What was dead in her, at least some of what was dead, lives again. She lives again in the world, a part of the world, the door that was closed, pried open by love.

She dares to love.

“I am . . . with my new grandson . . . the best time ever with my arms full of hope.’’

She dares to hope.

“I am still over the moon. Nothing beats this.’’

She dares to dream.

“I am . . . staring at heaven’s portal . . . alternately hugging and holding and kissing and swaying and praying new names to the stars.’’

There will be sad days, again. But for now there are these days, when my friend can look at the sun and the sky and the hyacinth in bloom and the beautiful little boy in her older daughter’s arms and feel grateful. And feel joy.

Beverly Beckham lives in Canton. She can be reached at