The sidewalks were pink with cherry blossom snow. I could smell the fragrance of newly mowed grass, mingled with the sweet aroma of springtime blossoms. The seagulls screeched their welcome to me as I walked towards the shoreline and embraced the full view of the ocean, the waves lapping in rhythmic cadence to the beating of my heart. I was home. Well, the home of my childhood at least.
Several weeks before the travel bans and the Covid-19 season of isolation hit us all, I had left my wintry “home” in Alberta, to come to Vancouver Island for a week-long stay. Had I known what we would be facing when we returned home from the Island, I likely would have fretted and not enjoyed this brief sojourn. Thankfully, we were blissfully unaware of the growing pandemic looming just over the horizon so we thoroughly enjoyed our trip, drinking in the beauty and familiarity all around us. Truth be told, I have been a prairie girl far longer than an island girl, having lived in the Calgary area most of my adult life. Still, whenever I have had opportunity to visit Victoria and travel up and down the Island, I always feel like I am experiencing a homecoming of sorts. The Island is where I spent my childhood, my teen years, and three years of university before I married the love of my life and returned to Calgary to settle permanently.
I have been a landlubber in Alberta since 1979, raising my family, and enduring the long, harsh winters there. The getaway to visit parents, friends and family on Vancouver Island has become an almost yearly trek. It is our annual reprieve from the cold of February and March in Alberta, to embrace Spring in all its glory there on the Island. I drink in all the green, the budding trees, the crocuses and daffodils that grow like weeds everywhere I look. I want the sights and smells to imprint themselves on my psyche, so I can recall them vividly when I again return to my Albertan home still in the throes of winter.
Last year, we did not go to the Island. In April last year I was experiencing a myriad of strange aches and pains that was eventually diagnosed as endometrial cancer. Spring was all but forgotten as I fought and battled up to Christmas. During the darkest of those days, when the battle seemed almost overwhelming, I wasn’t sure I would ever experience another spring. I felt the icy fingers of winter engulf me, even in the heat of summer. I tried to remain positive, leaning on God for strength through the ordeal of chemo. Always looking towards the finish line, when I could declare the battle over, I found comfort thinking about how I would embrace life after cancer. The first item on my “to do” list, was to plan a trip to the Island.
It’s the best way to describe how I felt throughout that week on Vancouver Island. Wonderment at experiencing Spring in all its glory there, but also wonderment at being fully alive, fully in the moment, battle-weary, but overwhelmingly thankful to be thriving, not just surviving once again!
That feeling persists.
Coming home to wintry Alberta, I didn’t complain about leaving the green of Spring there on the Island even when I saw the white drifts of snow piled up in our driveway. I was home. The break from winter had been refreshing, but the familiarity and peacefulness I feel here, even being in the last grips of winter chill, warms my heart like nothing else. I remind myself that I must bloom where I am planted. I must bloom, survive, thrive, and embrace life for as many days, weeks, and years that God gives me.
I can’t forget that.
Even in the midst of this Covid isolation, forced quarantine, and my inability to venture out because of my compromised immunity, I remind myself that this season will pass eventually. I long to hug on my loved ones, and my arms ache to cuddle my grandbabies once again. Still, I continue to stay positive. I must enjoy each day as a gift from God no matter what circumstances lay before me. I must continue to bloom, to look to the future, and be thankful.
After all, I praise God every day that I can bloom at all!
Lynn Dove is the award-winning author, of the YA “Wounded Trilogy”- a contemporary Christian fiction series with coming-of-age themes. A wife, mom, grandmother, and free-lance writer with articles published in several magazines and anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her blog, “Journey Thoughts” is a Canadian Christian Writing Award winner. Readers may connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and at lynndove.com
*This post was originally published on InScribe Writers Online.