A new accumulation of snow had blanketed Minneapolis on April 20th when I landed for a layover. Nearby passengers bemoaned spring’s late arrival. Same as babies, dates mean nothing, I mused, thinking of KT, my daughter. Her due date was April 10th. I had booked my flight months in advance, never supposing I might arrive on the day of her daughter’s birth. The last text I’d received from her husband had been at 4am. They were heading to the hospital. No one in the family had heard anything since. I activated my cell phone as I ran through the terminal for my connecting flight to Idaho. If the baby arrived tomorrow she would share my grandmother’s birthday. Nanny would have been 100, if only she’d lasted a few months longer. When I reached my gate, nearly everyone had boarded. I hustled down the gangway staring at the 4am instant message. A single picture suddenly appeared in a new dialogue bubble. I stared at the photo of a round-faced cherub, newly born, stoically staring back at me. I felt numb to its meaning. “…Lilly is her name,” came the text, making it clear. A new life, my daughter’s daughter had arrived. In a few hours I would hug them both.
As my mom always arranged them…
“If you ever want to name a daughter after me,” my mom had often told KT, “Choose Lilly instead of Dorothy. That’s the name I would have picked for myself.” From my childhood, I knew lily of the valley was her favorite flower. Every spring, I’d pick a tiny bouquet from the empty lot and carry it home to her. She’d arrange them in a small French vase and we’d sing their little song* while marveling at their huge fragrance. They didn’t last long, but they were memorable. After mom died, lilies of the valley appeared in our garden where none had ever been. Over twelve springs, they have taken over. When they blossom, I arrange them in the same French vase, and sing their little song, feeling like a little kid. Yes, it’s sappy. But, it makes me happy. I imagine she put them in my garden to maintain this connection. I also imagine, during KT’s pregnancy, her little girl lived beyond our sight in my mom’s company. I believe she sat in Mom’s lap hearing her stories, her songs, and learning about the family she would soon be born in to.
In the garden for two short weeks…
On Lilly’s fifth day of life, she stirred from a deep sleep. I cradled her in my arms while singing a few of the songs I’d once sung to KT. KT rested nearby and hummed along. Lilly’s body held the ticks and quivers of awakening, but her eyes remained firmly shut. “Do you remember the lily song,” I whispered to KT. She shook her head, perplexed. She didn’t recall it even when I began to sing, “White coral bells upon a slender stalk. Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk. Oh, don’t you wish that you could her them ring.” Lilly opened her eyes just then, and gazed intently into mine; clearly focused. Staring back at her, I finished, “That will happen only when the fairies sing.” An undeniable smile of recognition blossomed upon her fresh new face. A full mouth, jaw dropping, dimple popping, first smile. Speechless, I smiled back. She knew the song.
Once again, I have my proof. Things unseen need only be imagined, then believed, and they will be perceived. This is faith. The miles between us, and the time between visits, will not matter. Same as the lily of the valley, visits may be short, but they will be memorable. And loved ones passing beyond our sight will never diminish. Love always maintains a connection. My mom had taught Lilly this song. I knew it. We were connected still.
Also a great camp song! Here is the lily song in a round… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE5QrWks1e8 (<—Link to YouTube)
“…He is the resurrected Lord, Alive and well today, And he will meet your every need…As you seek him and pray. For the lily of the valley, the bright and morning star, the fairest of ten thousand, is right there where you are.” ~Connie Campbell Bratcher