by: Rebecca Taylor
Blueberries, plump and juicy waiting to be eaten, or baked into a pie or cooked down into a thick delicious sauce, August was the time for all of these things. Sadness was in the air, like rain on a cloudy day that just didn’t want to come, you knew it was there but couldn’t see it. The one person who had relished in the season of fruit ripening on trees and bushes, gathering and creating was no longer with them. Her sudden death left a void, one which made Joe Tanner and his daughter Sarah sad when they looked at the bushes in the garden. They knew what they had to do, like it or not, life had to go on, and that meant picking berries. They both knew that Jenny would be unhappy if they neglected the chores, especially the ones she loved most. Without saying a word, Jenny’s husband and daughter went to the old shed behind the house and brought out the baskets. Then, they went to the garden and harvested the fruit for a full three hours. There was still some ripe fruit left on the bushes and more green berries were sure to turn soon, but for the moment they were exhausted both physically and emotionally.
“Now what?” asked sixteen year old Sarah, her voice barely audible.
“We’ll freeze some. It’s the fastest way to get them out of the kitchen.” Freezing berries is easy, thought the distraught widower as he opened re-sealable bags and poured berries inside. I wish I could freeze the void I feel.
Busy days followed as more berries made their way into the lonely, sad home. It was nearing the end of the week and Joe couldn’t take it any longer. He grabbed the blender from its place on the shelf where it had sat waiting since his wife had been taken from him. He threw berries into the machine and after securing the top pressed the start button. The blueberries splattered around making a sea of purple-blue juice. They’re spinning like my stomach, all “wishy washy.” But can I really fix anything by taking out my anger on the helpless blueberries. “They didn’t kill her,” he repeated over and over again tears running down his face.
“Daddy,” said Sarah reaching over and hitting the off switch on the blender and then wrapping her arms around him in a hug.
“What are we going to do?” he asked, “nothing will ever be the same.” I hate looking at these blueberries, I cannot stand going to bed anymore and staying up all night is an accident waiting to happen. I cannot let this continue, I need to be here for my daughter and here she is comforting me. “I’m goingto figure things out Sarah, I’m going to be the dad you need me to be. I know I’ve let you down these last few months.”
“No, you haven’t Daddy, we both have a lot to learn. Mom did so much, some stuff I didn’t even realize until it wasn’t done or not like the way she did. We’re rebelling at the blueberries but really that’s not it at all. We’re mad because she’s gone and the blueberries are taking the hit.”
“You’re smart, Sarah, and maybe too grown up for your own good. Your mother’s death has made you lose your innocence about life.”
“Daddy, we’re going to get through this. Just like Reverend Frank said, every day it will get a bit easier. Sometimes we’ll have setbacks but we can do this. We both have to eat and sleep and go out and do things with our friends. Even though the outside world killed mother doesn’t mean we can hide from it.”
“Your mother’s death was an accident, a very unfortunate car accident, but the sun still rises and sets and we have to learn to enjoy it again. One day at a time. You should call your friends and go see them. It’s okay for you to leave me home alone.”
“Not today,” said Sarah, “but we could watch a movie once we’ve got the kitchen cleaned up. I’ll make popcorn.”
“Sounds good to me,” said Joe.
The next morning when Joe woke up from his brief slumber, he could smell coffee and blueberry muffins cooking. Sarah was at the kitchen table reading.
“You’re up early,” said Joe.
“I felt like cooking and I needed to make peace with the blueberries.”
“The muffins smell so good, I think I can make peace too by eating them.”
It was another day and while there would be many more struggles, at least for now, they had gotten over one hurdle, they had battled their emotions from the blueberry patch to the kitchen and had lived to fight another day.