We took a shortcut on our walk home today. At the last minute I decided to swing under the bridge so we could come up closer to our apartment. As we started down the back alley to our building, I looked over and saw one lone tulip blowing in the wind. Random, out of place, providential.
When my sister passed away 9 years ago, I found myself suddenly clinging to things she loved. In my head I’d go through a list so I would feel more connected to her.
Favorite color: purple.
Favorite flavors: peach, mango, strawberry.
Favorite flower: tulip.
It’s funny how significant these things have become even though if she were sitting next to me right now, she would probably roll her eyes and tell me they’re not even her favorites anymore.
Still, in an effort to feel close to her, I do strange things like snap 20 photos of a mountain dotted with purple flowers, buy a giant box of imported peach tea when I pass it in the store, and gasp every time I stumble upon a tulip.
Over the years it’s become more than a way I connect with my sister. It’s a way that God connects with me.
I don’t pretend to understand all the theology of heaven, but I imagine her sitting next to Jesus this afternoon, the red in her hair glowing in a perpetual golden hour. I imagine them smiling and watching me herd my crew down the sidewalk. I imagine they smiled at my kids pretending to be vegetables and delighting in every dandelion. They probably listened carefully as True suggested to Evan, under the shade of new leaves and bursting flowers, “let’s thank God for this!”
I imagine them both on the edge of their seats as I glanced over and saw the bright red tulip in full bloom.
Maybe the breeze mirrored the movement of a cloud of witnesses bending over to see my eyes widen and my face remember that my heart can’t comprehend or contain this kind of love.