I planted the white clematis in early spring, in the backyard near the door so that I would see it whenever I came outside. But while my other vines produced bounties of fruits and flowers all summer—brilliant blue clematis, delicate orange and yellow honeysuckle, delicious concord grapes—I was rather disappointed with this white vine, which all season sent forth a great deal of lush, leafy vines, but no flowers. (You'd think the name "Sweet Autumn Clematis" would have clued me in.) About a week or so ago, I noticed that the vine was covered in buds, and in the last few days they've begun to open.
They're gorgeous. Tiny white stars cascading against a backdrop of cool green. An unexpected gift, when the rest of the garden is beginning to tuck itself in for the long, dark nights of winter. It's the last thing that will bloom in my garden this year, and I can't believe how Summer went by so quickly. Not too long ago, it seems, I was out in the yard pruning and digging and planting new spring beds.
I didn't accomplish half my plans this year. Chicago summers are short, intense, and brilliantly colored, and before you know it the season's over. I always think there will be time enough for picnics and BBQs, catching up with everyone over a margarita and a perfectly grilled burger, time enough for one more summer house party before the chilly fall nights chase everyone inside. It's often hard to prioritize and fit everything in; some things get sacrificed.
I didn't see everyone I wanted to this summer, either. Sometimes work gets in the way, plans have to change, and I think, "Well, I won't make it to that family party, but it's okay, I'll catch everyone at the next one." I missed seeing my cousin Doug when he was here with his family, and I missed my cousin Kristen's boys when they were in town. And for what? A client project? A deadline I was terrified of missing? A stuffed head and a minor cold I didn't want to pass along? A seminar I couldn't miss? Any number of commitments that, in retrospect, simply aren't important? "I saw them not too long ago," I'd think, "I'll catch them at the next party."
But you never suspect that the next time you see your extended family will be at the hospital, as you all surround the bedside of your beautiful, funny, and much-loved cousin, who is far, far too young to be in the cardiac ICU.
And as you worry about what will happen next and what the future will hold, it all seems too short. There was a time, when I was younger, that the future stretched endlessly ahead. I know now that that's not true.
Hug your loved ones today, and let them know how much they mean to you. And please say a prayer for our Tracey, who means so very much to us all.