By Yvonne Lancaster —

The yard was still icy near the fence where it hides from the lowering sun. As a brave New Englander who shoveled her way through the long months of winter, it was heartening to see and feel the crusty brown earth beneath my feet and see crocuses peeking at me with their little green buds.

Since childhood, I have always enjoyed the changing seasons.  In many ways, nature taught me about life, death and many things that matter.  In the summer, we were allowed to play outside until the street lights came on.  In the fall, we would walk home from school, picking up colored leaves for our scrapbooks and would stop by the neighborhood kiosk for a bag of salted pumpkin seeds and red-waxed lips.  During the long winter months where the days were short, bundling up and sledding kept us occupied until we couldn’t feel our hands and feet. It was a time of innocence – when worries are few and the charm of childhood remain s a steadfast friend, forever imbedded in my mind’s eye.

With spring and the beginning of Lent, my mother, a Roman Catholic, encouraged us to make some sort of sacrifice to help us get ready for the Easter holiday.  She saw this as a time of repentance, giving and rebirth.  She also said “it will build your character.”  I associated this with giving up deserts, not watching my favorite TV show and doing something nice for others.  It sounds simple enough, but believe me, it was a tough task to abstain from cookies for 40 long days and 40 long nights.

In retrospect, I can clearly see how and why my mother inspired us to be strong.  In her wisdom, she knew that no one is exempt from life’s unforeseen challenges, and she tried to prepare us in the best way she knew how.

After my son Brian died suddenly in December 1985, my faith and hope that life would ever be happy or normal again confronted and threatened both my spiritual and physical well-being.  I argued with God.  The tragedy defied logic.  An intimate relationship with grief became first, not second nature for me.  There was no stopping the heartache and sorrow for the loss of my son.  It gripped the core of my being with a vengeance like a relentless snowstorm that was inescapable.

As those winter days grew shorter, I kept thinking of spring — a time of rebirth and renaissance when nature comes back to life.  I took long walks to soothe my soul.  I became more aware and appreciative that there is a season for everything – that life, whether here on earth – or in the hereinafter, will go on.  Gradually, my faith and hope was strengthened and restored with a greater awareness and appreciation that there is a season, and a reason, for everything.

Just as the flowers bloom and fields become green again, a feeling of peace and harmony surrounds me.  Within this peace, I see Brian, and understand in my heart of hearts, we will one day be reunited.

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Yvonne Lancaster

Born in Worcester, MA, Yvonne is a former newspaper columnist and is the recipient of numerous writing awards from United Press International, Massachusetts Press Association and New England Press Association for her column From the Heart. Currently, she writes short stories, poetry and is a still life painter. She is co-author of Every Step of the Way: How Four Mother’s Coped with Child Loss (2006) and From the Heart, Sketches from Life (1985). She was named Woman of the Year by the Business and Professional Women of America. She is currently working on her first novel. Her website is

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