On April 1, at St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, we said good-bye to Patrick Ryan, one of the founding members of Friends of Topsmead and a steady advocate for all things he perceived as good for the park. He was the beloved husband of Diane Ryan, our very own Topsmead Butterfly Garden WaterMistress.
We went into the church in the rain to say our good-byes, and we came out of the church into the noonday sunshine to get used to saying hello to a world without Patrick. The fragment of a Beatles song was playing in the back of my mind as I stood on the steps of the church and watched Diane, with her short bob of gray hair, disappear among the hugs of friends and family: “Love, love me do. I’ll always love you.”
After the funeral, I went up to Topsmead to find solace in Miss Edith’s landscape. Strolling around, I could see that Topsmead was also saying good-bye: good-bye to the lingering grays of winter, good-bye to the dwindling snow clumps hiding out on the shady side of the stone walls and the veranda where the sun can’t reach, good-bye to the short darkness of winter afternoons. It is always easier to say good-bye to things that you are not sad to leave.
Looking closely around the western side of the cottage, I could see that Topsmead was quietly saying hello to spring: hello to the tiniest of tiny green lilac buds, hello to blue bird houses done with their spring cleaning and ready to welcome the next generation of bluebirds, hello to the long and getting longer rays of the afternoon sun. It is always easier to say hello to things that you are eager to see.
I know that Miss Edith listened to baseball and opera, but I wonder if she ever listened to The Beatles. This month of April, this in-between season, this being between good-bye and hello brings another of their songs to mind:
Hey Jude, don’t make it bad.
Take a sad song and make it better.
And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain,
Don't carry the world upon your shoulders.
As I look west from Miss Edith’s veranda at the top of her meadow, I continue musing: what a blessing it is to have the love of friends and family and the sweet balm of nature to help us move through painful good-byes and painful hellos.