I woke from a weird dream a day or two after our Farther Along group’s recent writing retreat. We had discussed plans of some of our members to move or sell homes, so I’m sure that conversation was the trigger for the dream. I had dreamed that one of our members sold her house to another, then that member sold her farm to another whose house was purchased by the first member, who moved the house to another city. And in the dream, all of the thirteen of us mothers were busy color coding boxes and packing for those who were moving. And according to the dream, all of this moving had to be accomplished before the daffodils stopped blooming for the season!
Daffodils, I learned, symbolize rebirth and new beginnings in dreams. Daffodils are also called jonquils (or jon-a-quils by some older Southern gardeners) or “Lent lilies” since they bloom during the winter’s end and spring’s beginning during the season of Lent. In Wales, those who spot the first daffodil of the season will have the next 12 months filled with wealth according to one legend.
Just before leaving for the spring writing retreat at a home overlooking a lake, I stepped outdoors to check my bird feeders and found, to my surprise, fourteen daffodils blooming (after an extended period of cold as winter seemed to drag on and on). I took those fourteen daffodils to our weekend retreat.
Among the thirteen of us, we have lost fourteen children.
At the second meeting for our group in March 2003, Carol, our leader, had brought daffodils, one for each of our children who had died. Here’s how she described part of that second meeting in Farther Along: The Writing Journey of Thirteen Mothers:
“We met for a second writing workshop in a conference room at the Carousel Center Hospice building. . .It was a drizzly, cold Saturday morning in March of 2003, five months after our initial day together. . . .Kelly brought her baby, Cohen, born since we’d last met. He was in a stroller that lay flat so he could sleep. And he was attached to a breathing monitor; she wasn’t about to lose a second baby to SIDS.
“As steady cold rain made puddles in the parking lot, I put up the Guidelines sheet from the first session and invited everyone to sit down. As I looked around me I saw grim faces, pleading eyes, tight shoulders. I set a vase of water on the large table we were sitting around and pulled from my canvas bag, fourteen daffodils wrapped in a damp paper towel and aluminum foil. I took a flower and passed the bouquet to Kelly, who was on my left, telling her to take one for Abby and pass them along. . .When the flowers had been passed around the room, I put my bright yellow daffodil in the teal blue vase. “This is for Malcolm,” I said. “The bouquet can be our centerpiece this morning.” (89-90)
So when I saw fourteen daffodils blooming in my backyard, I knew they were for sharing with our group of mothers to remember our fourteen children who died too young and to remember that March day in 2003 when Carol brought daffodils for our children just as we were starting this journey together. And to acknowledge that despite a lot of bumps in the road, we really have traveled farther along on these grief journeys.
I remembered Wordsworth’s 19th century poem on daffodils:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
And Robert Herrick’s 17th century one:
Fair Daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain’d his noon.
Until the hasting day
But to the even-song;
And, having pray’d together, we
Will go with you along.
And yes, it certainly would be nice if those daffodils could also help with the moving plans of some of our group members as my dream suggested. Perhaps we need to get busy color coding boxes, sisters!
Here’s to daffodils, brave sentinels to remind us of those we love and of spring and hope.